Threat, racial slur leads to cultural sensitivity training

PORT ANGELES — A Sequim resident will avoid trial on a felony malicious harassment charge by undergoing cultural sensitivity training after he allegedly threatened and yelled a racial slur at a Native American woman last December.

“I said something I wish I wouldn’t have said,” Roger Dale Garman, 58, said Aug. 28 at his pre-trial diversion-agreement hearing in Clallam County Superior Court.

Garman also must do 40 hours of community service under the agreement which, if he violates it in the next two years, will land him back in Superior Court for a judge’s review of police and court records and potential sentencing.

“Hopefully, I can move on,” Garman said.

Malicious harassment occurs when a person is threatened because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory handicap.

The Boyce Road resident twice threatened the Jamestown S’Klallam tribal member Dec. 20, once after stopping her while she drove a school bus down his road and another time on the phone to a tribal employee, according to the arrest report.

Authorities said the bus was empty.

“You [expletive deleted] Indians, speeding up and down my roads,” Garman shouted at the woman, according to the report.

“The next time I see you doing it, I’m going to shoot you.”

The woman, 54, was “scared down to my bones,” she told county Sheriff’s Office Detective Amy Bundy, who wrote the report.

That same day, Bundy said, Garman called Allen’s assistant, telling the assistant he was tired of bus drivers speeding down his road “and he would take care of it the next time by shooting her [the school bus driver] and breaking her neck.”

Garman insisted at the hearing that he “never threatened anybody in my life with a gun” and that he “never stopped a school bus.”

Bruce Hanify of Clallam Public Defender, representing Garman, suggested Garman believed the vehicle was, instead, a 7 Cedars Casino bus, owned by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

“Nothing on the bus indicates it’s a casino bus,” Bundy said in a voice message to the PDN, adding that it is identified as a Jamestown S’Klallam tribal bus, which was confirmed by Allen in an interview.

The casino bus has a sign on it identifying it as being from 7 Cedars, Allen said this week.

“Everyone knows the Jamestown Tribe and everyone knows the Jamestown Tribe owns a casino,” Allen added.

“One could look at it and make a mistake.”

Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chris Cowgill said the “cultural competency course” identified in the agreement, which Garman will attend, is described by some as cultural sensitivity training.

Allen said he hopes Garman and others who are aware of the incident can learn from the outcome.

“It’s an educational moment for the few who would be aware of it, that these incidents can happen, and hopefully people will not make judgments about Indian people, including when we are working with the youth or elders or anything else in the community that we are trying to assist,” Allen said.

“That kind of bias disposition can be out there for different reasons, and hopefully people or anyone who pays attention to this will so note it in terms of their conduct around Indian people.

“It’s just a matter of developing more appropriate respect.”

The cultural sensitivity course will be coordinated through Friendship Diversion Services.

Ronnie Wuest, Friendship Diversion’s deputy director, has so far been unsuccessful in finding a provider in Clallam County, she said Wednesday, adding she cannot discuss specific clients.

Wuest did not have information on what would be included in the course.

Cowgill said Garman’s diversion agreement was put together in consultation with the woman who said Garman scared her down to her bones.

The woman is “glad [Garman] decided to heal instead of continue,” the woman said in a written statement to the court.

“As a member of our Indian community, we want to breach the gap — the cultural gap.

“We are not Indians of the 19th century, we are your neighbor, your bus driver, your friend.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.

“I hope he continues to heal.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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