TACOMA, Wash. - Quick Facts:
- Police said an officer ran over a man lying on a Tacoma street
- Authorities said the officer was patrolling the area and did not see the man on the roadway
- The victim is a 22-year-old man, who is in critical condition
Tacoma police are investigating after an officer ran over a man lying on the street early Saturday morning.
The incident happened at about 1:20 a.m. in the 600 block of North Fife Street.
Tacoma Police Department spokeswoman Loretta Cool told KIRO 7 a patrol vehicle traveling 10 mph ran over a person lying on the roadway.
The victim was a 22-year-old man and a soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Officials there said on Monday he was scheduled to be discharged next month, served in Afghanistan and had received an Army commendation medal.
The soldier was in critical condition. Cool said the investigation remains ongoing.
“[The officer] was driving very slowly, and he stopped a couple of times to run plates and he was looking at the (patrol car's computer) screen. He was looking out in between the cars,” Cool said.
Both police and neighbors told KIRO 7 prowlers have recently broken into many cars on the street.
Cool said the patrol officer, who has seven years of law enforcement experience, did not see the man lying on the street.
Cool added that the man was wearing dark clothing and lying on dark pavement.
“We hope that the guy’s okay. Obviously, even if you do lay down in the roadway, I don’t think you expect to wake up to that,” Cool said.
A resident in the neighborhood, Kassie Mitchell, caught infrared images of the incident on surveillance video and shared it with KIRO 7.
The man is seen walking to a car at around 1:13a.m. Three minutes later, he exits the car, and lies down on the pavement.
After two minutes there, the police squad car is seen approaching slowly, stopping occasionally, and finally running over the man.
“Looked to me kind of like it was both parties’ fault, where it was just an unfortunate incident, where maybe a young man was just partying too much without a friend to help him,” Mitchell said.
Police are still investigating why the man was lying in the street.
Duane Marggraf, who lives at the retirement home down the street, was sitting on the porch when the accident happened.
Marggraf said he saw the young man get in a car, start up the engine, then get out. But Marggraf did not see the man lie down on the pavement.
He then saw the squad car approach. He said the officer was checking out the cars and even stopped to look at Marggraf where he was sitting.
“He continued up the road real slowly. When his headlights hit the concrete up there, I noticed there was somebody up there laying in the road,” Marggraf said. “I thought he was going to get out and give him a citation for being drunk in public or something like that. But he continued on and ran him over, just like watching a movie.”
Chris Pearce, who lives in a second-floor unit near the scene, said he heard the collision: “A football tackle without hitting helmets basically.”
Pearce then looked out at the accident, where he said the man seemed seriously injured and in a lot of pain.
The car the man entered was still parked on North Fife Street Saturday night. There are military decals and a Joint Base Lewis-McChord parking pass on a window.
The officer involved was not put on leave
, because the accident was not intentional, according to the Tacoma police spokesperson, but the department has given him a few days off.
“Obviously this impacted him significantly, so we’re giving him some time so we can make sure that he’s fit to come back to work,” Cool said.