Surprised burglar grabs off-duty officer’s Taser, jolts him

The deputy had staked out his Arlington airport hangar, anticipating a thief. He wound up in a fight.

ARLINGTON — An off-duty Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant tried to arrest a burglar he caught breaking into an Arlington airport hangar, but ended up in a fight where his duty Taser was stolen, and he was shocked with it and beaten, according to police reports.

The violence has sparked an internal investigation to determine whether the deputy violated any sheriff’s office policies.

On Saturday afternoon the sheriff’s deputy, 43, reported to Arlington police two of his motorcycles and an aviation headset were stolen from the hangar he uses at the municipal airport.

He decided to spend the night there, in case the burglar returned to steal a third motorcycle, court papers say.

“The off-duty deputy advised a police supervisor that he would be out there late,” Arlington police spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said in an email Tuesday. “He knew we were conducting extra patrols and didn’t want to alarm us with his presence.”

The sergeant was not in uniform, but he was armed with his department-issued Taser, according to the police reports. Because the case was still being investigated, Banfield declined to say if the deputy also was carrying a service firearm. He had brought his assigned police radio.

Around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, he heard a bang at the hangar door. A man was breaking in. The sergeant confronted him and reportedly told him he was a police officer. He ordered him to stop, but the burglar ran, according to the police reports.

The deputy fired his Taser, knocking the man to the ground. The deputy reported the man got up and attacked him, striking him in the head and chest. The deputy said he punched the man’s face with the Taser. The man wrestled away the stun gun and then shot the deputy with it, court papers say.

The deputy then grabbed a pair of bolt cutters off the ground and hit the man, according to the court papers. The man escaped and ran east. The deputy chased him on foot until the man jumped into a vehicle parked in the 17800 block of 59th Drive NE. He drove off.

The deputy alerted 911 dispatchers about the fight via his duty radio, Banfield said. Arlington police tried to pull over the driver. Eventually, he surrendered northeast of the airport off 67th Avenue NE.

The Marysville man, 32, was treated for injuries at Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington. Police booked him into Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree burglary, felony assault of a police officer and attempting to elude police. He asked to speak with an attorney, and declined to talk with officers.

The off-duty deputy’s injuries were not serious. So far the sheriff’s office has declined to say how long he has served, or when he was promoted to sergeant. His name was redacted from court papers because he was considered the victim of a crime.

The Taser and bolt cutters were recovered as evidence. The sergeant’s supervisors were quickly notified about the incident, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. The agency was launching an internal investigation.

The stolen motorcycles haven’t been found.

Cars, motorcycles and things that aren’t planes often end up being stored in airport hangars, because renting a hangar can be cheaper than a garage or a storage unit. According to the city, Arlington’s airport allows vehicles to be stored in hangars, as long as the main use of the hangar is for an airplane and access to the plane is clear in case of a fire.

Police were investigating possible links to other recent burglaries around the airport. Last month the city warned of “multiple reports of thefts” at Arlington manufacturing businesses and hangars. At the time, city officials urged any other theft victims to call the police.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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