Attorneys for Tim Eyman, a longtime Washington political figure known for his initiatives fighting government taxes and fees, said he removed a chair from Office Depot as an accident.
Eyman is accused of taking a $70 chair from the Lacey Office Depot on Feb. 13 without paying for it.
"We have reached out to Office Depot in an effort to return the chair and/or pay for it, as its removal without payment was accidental," attorneys Dan Gerl and Casey Arbenz said in a statement Tuesday. "We also reached out to the City of Lacey to explain the circumstances of the chair’s accidental removal, but due to the three day holiday weekend were unable to do so."
"Although we had hoped to have had an opportunity to explain the circumstances of the chair’s removal with the Lacey City Attorney’s office, we were informed this morning that the City has filed charges out of Thurston County District Court."
The attorneys wrote that Eyman "vigorously maintains his innocence" and that they believe he will be cleared after the circumstances are explained.
The incident happened shortly before noon on Feb. 13 at the Office Depot at 602 Sleater-Kinney Road Southwest. Video of the incident appears to show Eyman, 53, sitting in a chair between entrance doors and, when the initial door to the Office Depot opens, taking it out to the parking area.
The clerk who helped Eyman told police he helped him return a printer that was purchased at the Bellevue store in return for two other printers. The clerk helped Eyman carry the printers out to his vehicle on a dolly but was stopped short of the vehicle, police were told. Eyman told the clerk "I`ve got it from here,” the police report reads.
Eyman was identified by his phone number, payment method information and name in the store computer system, according to the report. An investigating officer identified him from a Department of Licensing photo and from a photo on an Eyman Facebook page that shows him wearing a “let the voters decide” shirt that is the same one worn in the video, the report shows.
In a statement released Tuesday, Eyman said he returned to the store to pay for the chair. The video shows him returning to the Office Depot.
"That’s right, rather than hopping in my car for a daring get away after my successful bank heist, I walked back into the store and inserted my debit card into the chip reader (Jesse James I’m not)," Eyman's statement read.
"It’s gratifying to learn that the legacy media is not dead. I find it encouraging that they can still speak loudly and with one voice when they want to. Thank goodness it wasn’t over things like Inslee’s tax hikes or politicians’ massive salary bonuses - no, it was about me and a $70 chair."
On Friday evening, after news of the investigation broke, Eyman attorney Gene E. Piculell released a written statement.
“Prosecutor’s in Lacey Washington may be considering the circumstances next week concerning Tim Eyman’s purchase of various items at the local Office Depot in Lacey on Friday, February 15, 2019. There was a police report filed by an employee at Office Depot indicating an allegation of theft of an item. Mr. Eyman through his attorney’s office, Gene E. Piculell, Attorney in Bellevue, will fully cooperate with the review of the circumstances by the police and the prosecutor’s office. Mr. Eyman is confident that a quick and just resolution of this matter will occur.”
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