Washington State law has greatly relaxed the laws surrounding marijuana in recent years. Current law has decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug, making Washington one of only two states to do so. However, there are still stiff penalties attached to the cultivation or possession of larger amounts of marijuana. Those laws led to a man losing his life during a bizarre police chase involving a state-owned bulldozer. Several groups are crying foul after a man fleeing law enforcement was crushed by a bulldozer operated by state police searching for him.
The incident began on July 9th, 2018. A Washington game commission employee working in thick brush approximately 10 miles outside of Reading, Washington, noticed a suspicious vehicle parked in the underbrush. The worker called the local police who then contacted Washington state police to assist. When state police arrived they discovered two men and around 10 cannabis plants. The rural spot contained a wire fence surrounding the plants, as well as a collection of water bottles, gardening equipment, and fertilizer. One suspect was apprehended at the scene while the other man, 51-year-old Michael Longenecker of Reading, managed to elude capture.
As Longenecker escaped into the deep brush, law enforcement called in a state police helicopter in order to track him. A state trooper and the game commission worker also pursued Longenecker aboard a state-owned bulldozer. The helicopter was able to track Longenecker while relaying his position to the bulldozer. At some point in the search the helicopter lost track of Longenecker, and without the eyes in the sky the state trooper brought the bulldozer to a halt. It was at that point that they noticed the body of Longenecker lying behind them in the path of the bulldozer.
A preliminary autopsy was concluded on July 12, 2018. The autopsy report reflects that Longenecker died of traumatic injuries caused by being crushed by the bulldozer. At the time the report was released, the ruling of the cause of death hadn't been made due to pending toxicology reports.
A State police spokesman has already denied that law enforcement was responsible for the death. According to Trooper David Beohm, a state police spokesman, the bulldozer was not technically in pursuit of the suspect and therefore the man did not die while being pursued by state police. Law enforcement also blamed Longenecker for trying to hide to the tall brush. “That is so thick up there, there is no way that you could see someone lying in there,” said Beohm.
The other man arrested, David B. Light, was charged with a series of drug offenses. Bright was arraigned before being released on $25,000 bail while he awaits his day in court.
Are you facing drug possession charges in the Seattle, Washington area? If so, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi are ready to help. Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who has dedicated his law practice to defending the constitutional rights of those accused of a crime. To discuss your case, contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi to set up your free consultation.