Port Angeles man accused of giving chase to trooper sentenced

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man accused of chasing a State Patrol trooper who gave him a traffic ticket last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to harassment and was sentenced to 240 hours of community service.

Steven Garrett of Port Angeles, 50, pleaded guilty to harassment, a gross misdemeanor, as part of a plea deal and was sentenced to 364 days in jail, 334 of which were suspended for a year and 30 of which were converted to 240 community service hours.

John Hayden, Garrett’s attorney, told Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly it was a case he would have liked to take to trial, but understood why Garrett, originally charged with third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, was willing to accept the deal.

Guilty plea

“We’re allowed to plead guilty to things that didn’t happen,” Hayden said. “In fact, there’s no way the state can maintain a harassment charge.”

Court papers say Garret became angry when Trooper Eric Ellefson gave him tickets for speeding and not having proof of insurance during a traffic stop in Port Angeles on March 24, 2017.

“He became so angry, he was projecting saliva toward me as he spoke,” Ellefson wrote in his narrative. “I was alarmed by his vulgar language and concerned his verbal aggression could escalate.”

At that point Ellefson left the scene to continue his patrol.

It’s what happened next that surprised him, the trooper wrote.

Ellefson was told soon thereafter Garrett had called State Patrol Communications and said that he was looking for him. For that reason, Ellefson decided to patrol east of Sequim.

After stopping a vehicle along U.S. Highway 101 in Sequim, Ellefson noticed in his mirror that Garret, who he had stopped an hour earlier, was parked in the eastbound shoulder.

Ellefson drove west and watched Garrett make an illegal U-Turn before Garrett sped up to catch up to Ellefson, he wrote.

“Due to the aggression displayed at the initial stop, the hour that had passed and the fact we had been 13 miles east … I was in fear of my safety and felt he had intended to or would harm me,” Ellefson wrote.

Garrett eventually stopped in a U-Turn route and Ellefson called for backup. Troopers blocked the highway and arrested Garrett.

In addition to his sentence, Melly also signed an no-contact order, prohibiting Garrett from contacting Ellefson. Included is a provision that allows Ellefson to still pull Garrett over.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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