Police: Kent officer saves 15-year-old human trafficking victim

Kent police said a routine call led to a troubling discovery: A teenage human trafficking victim from Portland.

The department recently commended one of its officers for recognizing the 15-year-old girl was being exploited and told KIRO 7 the girl has since been reunited with family in Oregon.

"We were lucky in this case that he saw the signs very early," said Kent Police Commander Robert Hollis, who told KIRO 7 the officer saved the girl. "He was able to intervene at an early enough time where who knows what may have happened."

Court documents state officers responded to Kent's Driftwood Apartments in early September for a report of a hit-and-run with damage to a sign and tree.

Investigators said the suspect was identified as a 26-year-old man with several warrants who stayed in the complex. That man showed up as officers were on scene but sped away quickly.

The man then led police on a brief chase and was located several minutes away with a 15-year-old girl in the car, according to court documents.

Kent police said an officer was able to recognize from training that the girl was a human trafficking victim.

"Noticed that there was a large age difference between the young lady and the person that she was with," said Hollis.

Police said the officer listened to the girl and provided a safe space for her to "safely disclose her abuse."

"Taking the time, trying to build a rapport with this young lady," said Commander Hollis."(He) was able to interview this young lady and learn that there was what appeared to be some trafficking going on."

Police said human trafficking often involves prostitution but wouldn't go into detail about how the girl ended up with the suspect in Kent citing an active federal case. She arrived in Washington earlier in the day, police said.

Police arrested the 26-year-old, who was later charged by King County prosecutors with attempting to elude and reckless endangerment.

Records show he's no longer in custody at the King County Jail. Prosecutors said the man failed to show up to a recent court hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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