During a traffic stop on Sunday night, deputies and K9 Bane worked together to arrest an uncooperative passenger during a stop for a minor traffic violation.
Around 8:45 p.m., Deputy Krystal Bitzer noticed a red Chevy Cavalier didn't use its turn signal as it turned south on S. Thomas Mallen Rd. from W. 57th Ave. She initiated a traffic stop at S. Thomas Mallen and Silver St. but the driver continued driving slowly on Silver St., stopping in front of multiple homes before pulling back into the lane of travel and continuing eastbound before finally coming to a complete stop.
As Deputy Bitzer approached the vehicle, she observed a temporary license plate in the back window, which appeared to have been altered with a black marker. She spoke with the woman in the driver's seat, identified as 43-year-old Tina M. McCrea and the male passenger, who was later identified as 31-year-old Michael C. Painter.
McCrea told the deputy that she didn't have any registration or insurance paperwork for the vehicle, or identification on her. She explained she purchased the vehicle two weeks ago but didn't have a bill of sale or any documents. A check of McCrea's name back at the deputy's patrol car revealed that McCrea's license was suspended, and Painter said he didn't have a valid license either.
Deputy Bitzer called for backup units. When Deputy Veronica Van Patten arrived, Deputy Bitzer arrested McCrea for driving while suspended, and Deputy Van Patten approached the vehicle and kept an eye on Painter. Painter noticed Deputy Van Patten and began reaching around the floorboard of the vehicle. Van Patten told Painter to stop reaching and to keep his hands visible.
Painter was sweating profusely and placed his visibly trembling hands in his lap, then he locked the doors of the car and started making phone calls.
Painter appeared extremely nervous and failed to follow commands. Deputies were able to confirm his identity and learned that he was known to carry weapons, had an active Washington DOC warrant for his arrest, in addition to a U.S. Marshal's hold.
Deputies also learned there was a bat next to the driver's seat and McCrea advised they should be "very careful" as they dealt with Painter.
Painter continued to fail to follow commands even after he was told he was under arrest. He said he was calling his attorney but with the erratic behavior, along with all the information learned regarding Painter, Deputies were unsure if his was armed or if he was making calls in an attempt to get people to respond to the scene and assist in his escape.
After several unsuccessful commands to surrender, including K9 warnings advising K9 Bane would be used, Deputy Andrew Richmond deployed less-lethal munitions to break the back-driver’s window. Deputy Clay Hilton sent K9 Bane, who was wearing his Kevlar ballistic vest, to enter the vehicle. The ballistic vest hit the top of the window frame stopping K9 Bane’s momentum and prevented him from making it inside. As K9 Bane attempted a second leap into the vehicle, Painter quickly exited the vehicle and was taken into custody by several awaiting deputies.
As Deputy Schmidt and Deputy Humphrey moved Painter from the ground toward a patrol car for a complete search, Deputy Schmidt felt a handgun concealed inside Painter’s pants and immediately advised Deputy Humphrey and the surrounding Deputies of the weapon while shielding access to it with his hand. Although handcuffed, Painter grabbed for the weapon but he could only grab Deputy Schmidt’s hand instead. Painter was pinned against the hood of a patrol car while other Deputies safely removed the handgun. The handgun, a Glock 22, .40 caliber, had a fully-loaded magazine and one round in the chamber. A check of the firearm showed it had not been reported as stolen.
A bag containing a white crystalline substance and a small glass pipe were also located on Painter. The substance showed a presumptive positive result for methamphetamine.
The Safe Streets Task Force was notified of the arrest and responded to the scene to continue the investigation.
Painter was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for his DOC warrant and the U.S. Marshal’s hold.
This is an active investigation and additional charges are expected.
(story: Matt Pusatory, KHQ Local News Web Producer, KHQ.com; photo: Spokane County Sheriff's Office)