Suspected Tacoma car prowler shot; car owner arrested but won’t be charged

TACOMA, Wash. — A man who was arrested for shooting a car prowling suspect Sunday will not be charged, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Just after 11 p.m. Sunday, police were called to the 2500 block of South G Street for a report of shots fired.

Officers spoke with a man who said he saw another man breaking into his car. Tacoma police said the car owner shot the suspect during a confrontation.

The suspect fled, but the car owner followed the man and called 911.

The 40-year-old suspect was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Police said the shooter, 32, was arrested and booked into jail for investigation of first-degree assault. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office said charges would not be filed.

“All indications are that the person whose car was prowled acted in self-defense after being advanced on by the other party, who was holding an object to use as a weapon,” the sheriff’s department said.

Carvin Williams, who’s good friends with the man who was shot, said the victim, known as “V,” is battling mental health issues compounded by a drug problem.

“He thought V was breaking into his car, he’s justified to take action, but I don’t know about something like that. I don’t know if it was that serious,” said Williams.

V lives at the Bay Terrace Apartments in the neighborhood.

“He’s been in a very depressed mood for a long time and he’s been trying to get through it. So, we’ve been trying to get him through it too, because we know him,” said Williams.

Witnesses said V had a stick, and didn’t stay down after he was shot.

“That just shows his mental capacity. Anybody with good common sense knows, ‘Hey I just got shot. This stick is no good,’” said neighbor Theo Stewart.

The man shot was initially in critical condition, but as of Monday was listed as stable.

A prosecutor’s office spokesman said the statute most relevant to the case is RCW 9A.16.020:

Use of force—When lawful.

The use, attempt, or offer to use force upon or toward the person of another is not unlawful in the following cases:

(1) Whenever necessarily used by a public officer in the performance of a legal duty, or a person assisting the officer and acting under the officer’s direction;

(2) Whenever necessarily used by a person arresting one who has committed a felony and delivering him or her to a public officer competent to receive him or her into custody;

(3) Whenever used by a party about to be injured, or by another lawfully aiding him or her, in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against his or her person, or a malicious trespass, or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in his or her possession, in case the force is not more than is necessary;

(4) Whenever reasonably used by a person to detain someone who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or on real property lawfully in the possession of such person, so long as such detention is reasonable in duration and manner to investigate the reason for the detained person’s presence on the premises, and so long as the premises in question did not reasonably appear to be intended to be open to members of the public;

(5) Whenever used by a carrier of passengers or the carrier’s authorized agent or servant, or other person assisting them at their request in expelling from a carriage, railway car, vessel, or other vehicle, a passenger who refuses to obey a lawful and reasonable regulation prescribed for the conduct of passengers, if such vehicle has first been stopped and the force used is not more than is necessary to expel the offender with reasonable regard to the offender’s personal safety;

(6) Whenever used by any person to prevent a mentally ill, mentally incompetent, or mentally disabled person from committing an act dangerous to any person, or in enforcing necessary restraint for the protection or restoration to health of the person, during such period only as is necessary to obtain legal authority for the restraint or custody of the person.