SEATTLE — The Magnolia security guard under investigation by Seattle police for last week's pepper-spray incident has been in trouble with police before.
James Toomey was arrested and charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in Tacoma in 2014 after using pepper spray on two teenagers.
According to a court order the case has been continued until 2017, if Toomey meets certain requirements, including staying out of trouble.
Toomey, 43, was arrested after an incident with two teenagers at a Tacoma apartment complex.
According to charging documents in 2014, Toomey approached two teens who he thought were doing drugs at the Aladdin-Camelot Apartments in Tacoma.
Toomey was working as an armed security guard for Windward Security.
According to Tacoma police, when the teens ran, Toomey chased them. The teens taunted him for not being a police officer, according to the report.
Toomey tried to handcuff one teen and then got kicked, so he pepper-sprayed one teen in the face.
The teens and a witness told police Toomey slammed one teen's head into the ground, according to court records.
According to the police report, one teen told Toomey "he was abusing his power and that he could not breathe but Toomey told him to shut up and continued to hit him, apply weight, and grab his hair and slam his head to the ground."
Toomey was charged with two counts of assault, fourth degree, one count for each teenage victim.
Under an agreement with the court Toomey's trial on the charges is deferred until 2017. In the meantime, Toomey was required to attend anger-management classes, and must have "law abiding behavior" and "no similar incidents."
Seattle police are investigating Toomey for his actions on March 2 in Magnolia when he pepper-sprayed Andrew Harris. Harris works at the Magnolia 76 gas station and the Spirit of Magnolia Liquor Store.
He was in his car parked near 27th Avenue West / West Commodore Way when the altercation occurred.
Toomey told police he approached a car to check out a complaint from people working nearby that the occupant might be doing drugs.
Harris told police he was asleep in his car and said he woke up to Toomey pounding on his window and opening his car door.
Harris said Toomey told him he was parked illegally; Harris said he wasn't. He felt he was being harassed.
He was upset so he moved his car down the street, parked near the Central Protection patrol car and asked to record the interaction with Toomey on his phone.
He says Toomey knocked his phone onto the ground, and it shattered. When Harris bent down to pick up the pieces, he said Toomey pepper-sprayed him.
When he tried to get back to his car to leave, Harris said Toomey chased him, pepper-sprayed him some more, then put him in handcuffs and called 911.
Toomey told police Harris tried to grab at him, so he slapped his arm away.
Police asked Toomey if he was afraid for his safety, why did he pursue Harris back to his car when he was clearly retreating?
According to the police report, Toomey didn't have an answer.
Neither man was arrested. Seattle police are investigating the incident.
"Now we're starting to figure out whether or not the force used by the security guard was proper or whether he was justified using that force," said Detective Patrick Michaud, Seattle Police Department.
KIRO 7 told Harris about Toomey's pepper spray incident in Tacoma from 2014. "It's got to end," said Harris, "I'm definitely not surprised this has happened again."
The Magnolia Patrol Association hired the private security guard through Central Protection. He is paid by donations from residents.
The community was upset with Seattle police for response times and the lack of police presence in the community.
The Magnolia Patrol Association was not ready to comment about the incident, they are waiting for the outcome of the police investigation.
KIRO 7 reached out to Central Protection and Toomey for comment and have not received a response.
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