PORT ANGELES — A Clallam Bay-area man is in custody under investigation for malicious harassment, a felony, and fourth-degree assault since he is suspected of throwing eggs at Black Lives Matter protesters in Port Angeles on Saturday.
Deputy Chief Jason Viada of the Port Angeles Police Department said Jeffrey M. Dunn, 24, turned himself in to Clallam County Sheriff’s deputies at midday Tuesday and is being held in the Clallam County jail ahead of a Superior Court appearance set for 1:30 p.m. today.
Dunn is alleged to have driven past a protest occurring outside of the Clallam County Courthouse at Fourth and Lincoln streets multiple times, “yelled some derogatory remarks and threw and hit some people with eggs,” Viada said.
“At first glance it may appear as a simple assault, an open-and-shut case,” Viada said. “But if you read Washington state’s malicious harassment statute — and due to the makeup of the crowd, combined with the statements made by the subject — it necessitated an arrest on malicious harassment, a felony hate crime.”
Viada said Dunn is alleged to have directed both racial and homophobic slurs toward protesters.
Malicious harassment is a Class C felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Fourth-degree assault is a misdemeanor offense.
“We don’t make a malicious harassment arrest every day,” Viada said. “This is a complicated statute, and Port Angeles officers have been working closely with the prosecutor’s office to provide more evidence. I am confident they will be charging the case.”
Protesters posted photos and videos from the incident on social media and copied the license plate of the gray Toyota pickup they said the man was driving. Dunn’s name and image were posted online before he turned himself in Tuesday.
But to arrive at a felony charge took further police work, Viada explained.
“There has been a lot of chatter on social media about this case, a lot of interest in the investigation,” Viada said.
“The officers involved in the investigation have put a lot of hours into this case interviewing people who were demonstrating in the front of courthouse when this occurred. It took work, finding people and interviewing them and documenting how they experienced this incident.
“That happened largely because we have officers who are part of this community and the citizens impacted trust those officers enough to come forward,” he continued.
“There’s a reason Washington state created this [hate crimes] statute. And when you combine unlawful behavior with willful intent, it is something that Washington citizens will not tolerate.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].