By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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SEQUIM –– Police officers unsuccessfully attempted to serve a citation late Tuesday afternoon for assault and resisting arrest to the man who officers were filmed punching outside a downtown tavern early Sunday morning.
Chief Bill Dickinson told the Peninsula Daily News that officers attempted to deliver the citation at the man's home, but he was not there.
“We're going to keep trying to deliver it tonight,” Dickinson said.
“Unless he doesn't get home, we'll deliver it.”
Cellphone video footage shot by a witness outside the Oasis Tavern, 301 E. Washington St., showed three officers attempting to arrest the man Sunday, with Officer Grant Dennis issuing a series of blows to his body and a fourth officer trying to hold back onlookers.
Because the man has not received an official citation, city officials have not released his name.
Police officers early Sunday morning left a ticket on the man's porch for three misdemeanor offenses: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault, City Attorney Craig Ritchie said.
“When they dropped him off, he was hostile, so they let him go into the house. And they realized they had not given him the ticket, so they went back and put it on his porch,” Dickinson said.
But because they did not serve the citation to the man directly, he was never officially cited for any offense, Ritchie said.
The citation is not official until delivered directly to the suspect, similar to serving a party in a civil suit, the city attorney said.
“Until you've confirmed that he received the citation, it's not officially issued,” Ritchie said.
Thousands of people have viewed the cellphone video on Facebook, YouTube and on the Peninsula Daily News' website.
Dickinson defended his officers' actions, saying they were trying to handcuff the man and remove him from the scene, at which a punk rock concert was playing.
Following the incident, the man was taken to a fire station and treated for injuries from the altercation.
Officers, Dickinson said, then took the man home because he told them he a 7-year-old child there alone.
“When he lays on us that he has a child who probably should have adult supervision at home, we took him home,” Dickinson said.
There is no law governing how old a child must be to be left alone, according to Thomas Shapley, spokesman for the state Department of Social and Health Services.
“If there's a situation that endangers a child's health or safety, then there may be charges that could be filed,” Shapley said.
“But there's no law that says, 'This is when you can leave a child home alone.'”
Experts, he said, recommend that children be at least 12 years old before they are left alone for an extended period of time, and that they not be left alone overnight, Shapley said.
Officers had ejected the man from the bar after he got into a shoving match with another patron shortly after midnight.
Suspects in misdemeanor crimes are rarely booked into jail by Sequim police, Dickinson said.
“It's a friendly way of doing business for our community, and it's better business for us because we don't have to drive for an hour to take them to jail [in Port Angeles],” he said.
“And if we have one officer on duty, they spend an hour and we're without anyone on shift.”
Dickinson added that the weekend was heavy with police activity due to the Sequim Irrigation Festival.
“This was a festival weekend in our town, with many people drinking and carrying on,” Dickinson said.
“The night before, we took another drunk home out of the same bar.”
Dickinson said his department is investigating the case to determine if officers in the video acted properly.
The officers all are still on patrol.
At Monday night's City Council meeting, Dickinson showed footage of the incident from Oasis surveillance cameras.
The video shows an altercation at the bar that preceded the incident between the man and officers in the planter box outside.
City Manager Steve Burkett after the meeting said the footage to him looked like a “typical arrest” from a “typical bar fight.”
“I think it met our standards, in terms of proper police work,” Burkett said.
Mayor Ken Hays also backed the city's officers.
“It's hard to imagine any of our officers having the slightest frame of mind to do anything that might be considered brutal,” Hays said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.