Judge had ordered help for man accused of stomping jail guard

EVERETT — A man judged too mentally ill to bring to trial on charges of assaulting a girl and trying to disarm a police officer is now accused of beating and stomping a corrections deputy into unconsciousness at the Snohomish County Jail.

Ammar Kasim Al-Rubaie, 26, was charged with first-degree assault Wednesday for the Dec. 23 jailhouse attack.

The Everett man approached corrections deputy Samuel Chen inside the jail and began punching him in the face, deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter said in Snohomish County Superior Court papers.

Chen, a 12-year corrections veteran, was able to fight back during a protracted struggle, much of which was documented on jail surveillance video, Hunter wrote. At one point, the video reportedly shows Al-Rubaie maneuvering behind Chen, wrapping him in a bear hug and then hurling the deputy down.

There were steel stools and a table bolted to the floor.

“When the defendant threw Deputy Chen downward, he smashed the deputy’s head directly into one of the steel stools,” Hunter wrote. “Deputy Chen was immediately knocked unconscious and remained draped over the stool motionless.”

Al-Rubaie reportedly continued to punch the corrections deputy in the head and began removing the man’s equipment.

The deputy began to stir and lifted his head slightly, the prosecutor wrote.

“Seeing this, the defendant raised his right foot and stomped on the back of Deputy Chen’s head, smashing it into the concrete floor,” Hunter said.

Other deputies moved in and restrained Al-Rubaie. Chen, 53, didn’t move again until more than two minutes passed and he was receiving first aid.

The attack took place around 4:30 a.m. in the jail’s psych unit, which houses up to 17 inmates. It happened just hours before a hearing on a defense motion to dismiss the assault charges that put Al-Rubaie behind bars in the first place.

The defendant was booked months ago for investigation of assault. During that arrest, he allegedly fought Lynnwood police and was able to remove a knife from one of the officers, Hunter wrote. The struggle continued until an officer was able to choke the defendant unconscious.

The defendant had no previous criminal history — felonies or misdemeanors — prior to the August arrest. Charging papers allege he was trying to get teen girls to hang out with him at the Alderwood mall and grabbed a 16-year-old by the arm. A security officer alerted police. It took three officers to subdue him.

As one officer approached, Al-Rubaie allegedly pulled a knife from the officer’s shirt pocket.

The officer reportedly grew fearful for his life and told the defendant he would be shot if he didn’t drop the knife.

“The defendant’s grip on the knife tightened and his knuckles went from being red to white,” court papers said.

That case has been pending since August and questions surfaced almost immediately about Al-Rubaie’s mental health and ability to assist in his defense.

A family member reported to mental health professionals that the suspect had worked as an airplane mechanic for six years but lost his job. His family became concerned about his mental health in April. At times, he would walk around the house yelling and screaming, talking to himself and laughing, and that at one point, he seemed to be convinced that people were talking to him, when there was no one there, according to court papers.

A Western State Hospital psychologist wrote in late November that “Mr. Al-Rubaie appears to lack the present capacity to have a rational understanding of his charge and court procedures, and appears to lack the present capacity to assist in his defense with a reasonable degree of rational understanding.”

The psychologist wrote that the defendant appeared to be exhibiting symptoms of “unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder.”

A judge in late November ordered that Al-Rubaie be sent to Western State for treatment in hopes of sufficiently restoring his mental health to assist in his defense.

The state mental hospital has been the focus of ongoing litigation over long wait lists for criminal defendants who remain locked up in jails across the state for lack of treatment beds.

Prior to the attack, Al-Rubaie’s attorney had filed a motion seeking dismissal of his case for failure to transport him to Western.

Local and federal judges in recent years have ruled the state is violating constitutional rights by forcing mentally ill people to wait in jails, sometimes for months, before they receive competency evaluations or treatment to restore their ability to assist in their defense.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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