What is Seattle doing to get repeat criminals off the streets?

KING COUNTY - If you want to see a nonchalant criminal at work, Nicholas Wright is your man.

In May of this year, he sauntered over to a car at a Shell gas station and steals it right in front of the owner. Wright has a thing for taking things that are not his.

Just about a week before, he drove off with the car at the gas station, detectives say he broke into an Auburn home.

He took the keys from the kitchen and stole a Toyota Tundra out of another man’s garage while the homeowner was inside the house.

“We ended up catching him, he ended up confessing to the crime, he was released with no bail,” Auburn Police Spokesperson Steve Stocker said.

A King County District Court judge released Wright with no bail for stealing the Toyota Tundra. Soon after stealing the Toyota, detectives say Wright stole the vehicle at the Shell gas station.

But another judge in District Court also released him with no bail for the gas station incident.

“A lot of the folks committing these property crimes they have committed violent crimes,” Stocker said.

When it comes to arresting some of these repeat offenders, it is a very dangerous job. For example, the lengths police had to go to arrest Uso Hale on May 15th is scary.

Police say they witnessed a car running red lights and driving erratically. They tried to pull the driver over who they later learned was Hale.

But Hale took off and during the chase dashcam video captured a female passenger in Hale’s car trying to jump out.

A police report states that Hale looked like he was yelling at her and she was signaling police for help.

After several maneuvers including ramming into Hale’s car, the suspect runs from police into an Economy Inn. It took a K-9 to force Hale to comply and he is finally arrested.

The May 15th incident is the second time he’s run from police just this year. Hale has four open cases in King County and more than a dozen convictions.

“A lot of these people committing these crimes are addicts they are doing that to support their drug habit,” Stocker said.

With every criminal act, there is a community impact.

“I have panic attacks all the time because of it,” Alicia Bomer said.

Bomer says she will never be the same.

“I have some guy jump in my car and he says go,” Bomer said.

That guy is Mitchell Nelson. On January 21, 2018 dashcam video captured Nelson running from police.

Police initially tried to arrest him for stealing someone’s bag but he took off running leading to an intense chase.

Nelson tried to steal several cars from people during the chase. He ended up jumping into Bomer’s car.

One minute Bomer is waiting for her kids at an Auburn Park and Ride, the next minute she is trying to physically fight off a delirious intruder.

“He was tased twice and in a physical confrontation with police before he even got in the car,” Bomer said.

By the time Bomer jumped out of her car, police surrounded Nelson who then began to ram Bomer’s car into a police vehicle trying to get away.

“It took five officers to get him out they broke my window,” Bomer said.

Even before the Jan 21st incident, Nelson is accused of committing two more crimes in the same month but that didn’t stop him from getting out of jail just days after he attacked Bomer.

“I felt so bad for the next person it happened to, he hijacked another car and ended up barricading himself in that house,” Bomer said.

Bomer says she couldn’t believe what she saw on the news. Several months after her incident, Nelson broke into a home carrying out a 12-hour standoff with SWAT teams in Federal Way.

The home was badly damaged and the people who live in that home were displaced.

And it would be Nelson’s last run from police, authorities say they shot Nelson during the standoff after he shot at them first.

“He had a violent history with police that should be a red flag before they let him out,” Bomer said.

By the time of Bomer’s incident, Nelson had accrued 13 convictions and court records show that he had at least on 7 different occasions failed to show up to court.

“There is no consequences at all it encourages people to re-offend over and over,” Bomer said.

In Bomer’s case, prosecutors did file several charges against Nelson including robbery in the second degree. During arraignment, King County Superior Court Judge Bill Bowman lowered his bail from $100,000 to $25,000.

“His bail was so low on him he was able to bond out,” Stocker said.

Nelson needed 10% of the $25,000 to bail out of jail.

Judge Bowman required Nelson to go to an alternative treatment program but Nelson did not follow through instead he continued to terrorize the community.

Stocker says he feels that many violent repeat offenders are not prosecuted to the fullest extent.

“It certainly feels like to us anyway in the last couple of years something has changed,” Stocker said.

Q13 news requested an interview with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to talk about concerns over repeat offenders but he declined a sit-down interview.

His spokesperson did say their office has conservative filing standards in hopes of getting plea deals. The end goal is to get the defendant to plead guilty in order to avoid an expensive trial.

The office also says they cannot overcharge any case.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for Superior Court said Judge Bowman had no comment on the Nelson case.

But District Court that handled Wright’s case says their judges handled the situation appropriately.

“It is essential to understand that judges must maintain neutrality and cannot conduct their own investigations. Instead, judges only can consider relevant information and evidence that is brought before them by the prosecutor and defense attorney,” Chief Presiding Judge Donna Tucker said.

Tucker says Wright received no bail in the cases mentioned because at the time he had not been charged with a crime.

But despite those explanations, many in the community and in law enforcement say changes are needed because the current system is not equipped to handle the ongoing problem.

Stocker says since many repeat offenders have drug habits he wants to see the legal system find a better way to get defendants treatment while they are jailed.

Mayor Durkan’s Office says they are working on finding new strategies and ideas because they agree that current interventions are not working on some repeat offenders.

Durkan formed a working group and her office says they have been meeting every other week since April. The working group involves Satterberg, City Attorney Pete Holmes and other parties.

Durkan’s spokesperson Kamaria Hightower says they hope to have some new strategies and ideas rolled out late summer.

 

 

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