LYNNWOOD, Wash. – After robbing a Pick-n-Pull on Highway 99 on the evening of November 30, a suspect reversed into a Lynnwood Police Department patrol car, peeled forward onto the sidewalk, crossed multiple lanes of traffic, then sped off northbound on Highway 99 fleeing the scene. The Lynnwood PD officer, under newly implemented state laws and department policy, was unable to pursue.
Under HB1054, law enforcement cannot pursue unless the person has committed a violent offense, sex offense, an escape (from custody) offense, or is believed to be under the influence.
The suspect was found stealing items from the closed Pick-n-Pull which resulted in a foot pursuit with the officer. The man dropped the stolen items and managed to get into a white pickup truck that was parked at a nearby business. The officer attempted to get him to stop but he resisted.
In a video posted by the Lynnwood PD on December 1, the officer’s camera footage shows the suspect in his white pickup truck with the windows slightly closed, masking a clear image of his face. The video shows the officer, with his lights and sirens activated, calling, “Hey, pull over buddy, Lynnwood Police, pull to the right, do it now,” before the suspect sped away. The Washington State Patrol later found the pickup truck abandoned in a ditch off State Route 9 in Marysville.
Although the Lynnwood PD was unable to pursue, they managed to get the license plate number and find the registered owner who informed the PD that they had lent that truck to a “family member.” This disclosed family member matched the description the officer witnessed commit the crimes.
The suspect faces charges for criminal trespass, obstructing a law enforcement officer, hit and run, and attempting to elude a police vehicle. Although the Lynnwood PD has a suspect in mind, Lynnwood PD Public Affairs and Information Officer Joanna Small told the Lynnwood Times, “It’s a hard case to prove, and no one has been arrested at this time.”
The damage to the patrol vehicle was minor, though the suspect hit the front driver’s side push bars hard enough to move the vehicle out of the way. The officer was not in the vehicle at the time.
Since August 1 (a few days after the new legislation went into effect), the Lynnwood PD has recorded 25 hit-and-run collisions, though the PD has not recorded how many of these have been patrol vehicles. Before the new laws went into effect, the Lynnwood PD also recorded 24 between January 2021 and July 31, 2021, a longer time period, meaning fewer hit-and-runs, but to Joanna Small, this is “not a statistically significant difference.”
However, the Lynnwood PD recorded 31 cases of eluding (attempting to elude, disobeying an officer, resisting arrest, and obstructing an officer) between August 1 and December 6, compared to only 19 cases January 1 through June 31.
“That’s significant in my opinion, but I can’t attribute that to the new laws,” Small told the Lynnwood Times.
Governor Inslee signed new legislation that went into effect on July 25 and affects law enforcement and how they provide public safety services, leaving many police departments to revise their responses to crime.
HB1054 passed 54-43 at the House level and 27-22 at the Senate, signed by the governor on May 18, establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers.
HB1310, concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers, passed 55-42 at the House and 26-23 at the Senate, signed by Governor Inslee on May 18.
A day after the Lynnwood PD posted the camera footage to its Facebook page, Adam Fortney, Snohomish County Sheriff, made a follow-up post stating the following:
“The only way to save this state when it comes to public safety is for all of us to be involved. Do not allow the activists in the legislature to give this state over to the criminal element any further. This is the second case in the last three weeks of suspects ramming police cars and the police not being able to pursue them after. This is not how a civil society is supposed to run. It is time to stop the insanity.”
Sheriff Fortney concluded his post by urging the public to write to their local legislatures to request “potential legislative fixes.”