Seattle firefighters charged in attack on homeless man



SEATTLE - Two Seattle firefighters and a woman have been charged with attacking a homeless man in Pioneer Square.

Police said the attack occurred in March on a man who was sleeping at the Seattle Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Pioneer Square’s Occidental Park.

Mia Jarvinen, Robert Howell and Scott Bullene were each charged with one count of fourth-degree assault and one count of malicious harassment. Howell and Bullene, City of Seattle firefighters who were off-duty at the time, and Jarvinen were walking through the park after a Seattle Sounders game on March 15 when, witnesses told police, they kicked and screamed at the man.

Jarvinen is Bullene’s girlfriend.

Seattle police said all three were intoxicated.

Francis Hicks said the three targeted him and another homeless man.

"I went to talk to him and he swing at me. He went there and kicked him right in the face," said Hicks. "And then his wife grabbed the food and threw it all over him."

Hicks said he tried to talk to them but they hit him in the face, too.

"And he started calling everybody 'F, everybody get out of the park,'" said Hicks.

Witness Ashton Cruz  said the first man they went after was 'Sarge,' a disabled veteran, who hobbled on one leg and a walking stick.

Seattle police said the veteran stabbed Bullene in self-defense.

Based on the police reports and witness interviews, “we have reason to believe the harassment was because of the victim’s status of being homeless,” Criminal Division Chief Craig Sims said.

Seattle municipal code says “A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she maliciously and intentionally commits … acts because of his or her perception of another person's homelessness, marital status, political ideology, age, or parental status.”

 City Attorney Pete Holmes filed the charges Wednesday.

If convicted, each faces a fine of up to $5,000 and up to a year in jail.

They are expected to make their first court appearances in three weeks.

Seattle fire spokesman Kyle Moore said both firefighters have been on paid administrative leave since the incident.

At the time of the attack, Howell, a Seattle firefighter since 1997, had been on disability since Jan. 9.

Bullene was hired by the department in 1999.  

Jarvinen and Bullene are also suspects in a 2012 road rage incident in which one of them claimed to have a gun.

See previous coverage of the story here.

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