A 28-year-old Coulee Dam man died Saturday shortly after a U.S. Forest Service agent stunned him with a Taser, handcuffed him and took him into custody.
TONASKET – A 28-year-old Coulee Dam man died Saturday shortly after a U.S. Forest Service agent stunned him with a Taser, handcuffed him and took him into custody.
William J. Dick III was a suspect in the gunpoint robbery of a hitchhiker near Tonasket, and later fled from the federal officer and a Washington State Patrol trooper in a vehicle and then on foot, said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers.
Authorities throughout Okanogan County were on the lookout for a van after a 47-year-old hitchhiker from Idaho reported that he had been picked up shortly before 10 a.m. on Highway 20 outside of Tonasket.
He told deputies that a man in the back seat pointed a .22-caliber pistol at his head and took $150 and a fly rod before dropping him off along the side of the highway, the sheriff said.
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The hitchhiker flagged down a Forest Service officer, who called for deputies and then began searching nearby federal land for the van, Rogers said.
About an hour later, the Forest Service officer discovered a van parked at a campground on Lyman Lake Road, off of Highway 155, Rogers said. He called for backup, and then followed the van when it left. A state patrol trooper caught up with them, and led the pursuit when the van turned up the Bureau of Indian Affairs 66 Road, Rogers said. Both officers followed the van for about five miles before it hit a tree across the road, he said.
Two men fled on foot, and the trooper and Forest Service agent both followed Dick, he said. Rogers said the officers ordered Dick to stop, and he refused.
The Forest Service officer used his Taser to stop Dick, then handcuffed him and stood him up, Rogers said. “We don’t know what killed him. He was Tased, and once he was taken into custody he stopped breathing,” he said. Rogers said the officers attempted to revive him using CPR, but were unsuccessful.
Okanogan County Coroner Dave Rodriguez said an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. He said they will be looking at excited delirium as a possible cause.
One witness told deputies that Dick had been doing heroin shortly before the Tasing, and deputies who searched the vehicle found a substance believed to be heroin, Rogers said.
It may be several weeks before toxicology analysis has been done to determine if Dick had any drugs in his system, Rogers said.
Rogers said his agency is investigating the robbery, which occurred on Highway 20. In addition to the Forest Service officer, a Washington State Patrol crime lab and tribal police responded. Dick was a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
Rogers said the robbery victim told deputies that the men in the van were “smoking meth and driving like idiots.” He also told deputies that a woman in the van tried to convince them to leave him alone.
The woman, who stayed in the van after it crashed, was questioned and released, Rogers said.
The other man in the van who fled later turned himself in, Rogers said. Kyle S. Cate, 23, of Okanogan, was arrested and booked into the Okanogan County Corrections Center on suspicion of first-degree armed robbery, attempting to elude a police vehicle and driving with a suspended license.
Rogers said no gun was found. He said deputies believe that Cate was driving, and Dick was in the back seat with the hitchhiker.
Forest Service spokeswoman Robin DeMario said the agency’s law enforcement is overseen by a separate branch A special agent in charge based in Vancouver did not respond to phone calls this morning to discuss the case.
Reach K.C. Mehaffey at 509-997-2512 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog An Apple a Day or follow her on Twitter at @KCMehaffeyWW.