A former Seattle firefighter who was acquitted last year of assaulting homeless men in Occidental Park was charged Thursday with second-degree robbery for allegedly taking the cellphone of a cabdriver during a road-rage incident in Bellevue.
A former Seattle firefighter who was acquitted last year of assaulting homeless men was charged Thursday with second-degree robbery for allegedly taking the cellphone of a cabdriver during a road-rage incident in Bellevue.
Scott Bullene, 46, was arrested in Seattle by Bellevue police on Monday as he was driving to an arbitration hearing to appeal his dismissal from the Seattle Fire Department after he was accused of assault.
In the new case, according to the charging document filed in King County Superior Court, Bullene is accused of attacking a cabdriver and taking his cellphone just after 9 a.m., Dec. 22, in downtown Bellevue.
The cabdriver told police he was driving on Northeast Fourth Avenue when the driver of an Audi Q5 cut him off, prosecutors say.
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While the two cars were stopped at an intersection, the Audi driver rolled down his window, pointed his middle finger at the cabdriver, cursed at him, and spat in his direction, the charging documents say.
When the cabdriver got out of his car to take a picture of the Audi driver with his cellphone, the driver of the Audi is alleged to have gotten out his car and pushed the cabdriver “hard on his chest,” trying to force the man back into his cab, court documents say.
The two men tussled until the driver of the Audi snatched the cabdriver’s phone and drove off, the charging document says.
Police and prosecutors say the Audi driver left the phone at a nearby business, then tried to report its location anonymously.
Police tracked the vehicle’s license-plate number and found it registered to Bullene’s girlfriend, Mia Jarvinen. Police said witnesses and the alleged victim identified Bullene as the man involved in the road-rage incident.
Because of his arrest Monday, Bullene was unable to attend his arbitration hearing at the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.
Bullene and Robert Howell, another former Seattle firefighter, were fired in August after they and Jarvinen were charged with fourth-degree assault and malicious harassment, a hate crime, for allegedly assaulting several homeless people on March 15, 2014, at Occidental Park.
City attorneys said the “brutal attack” was motivated by anger toward the homeless.
In charging documents, the City Attorney’s Office said the trio had left a Seattle Sounders game when they came across people sleeping on the Fallen Firefighters Memorial and became outraged. They were accused of kicking and hitting several individuals while allegedly yelling about being taxpayers who were sick of the drain “homeless” people placed on society.
Bullene, Howell and Jarvinen were acquitted of the assault in a jury trial.
Bullene and Howell have spent the past three weeks fighting to get their jobs back and were being represented in the arbitration by an attorney for the Seattle Fire Fighters Union, said Kenny Stuart, union president.
Stuart said the union will wait to learn more about the current charges against Bullene before deciding whether to continue its representation of Bullene.
“We need to have enough facts to make a good decision,” Stuart said on Thursday. “Integrity is vitally important to our organization. We represent our members, but we represent the integrity of the process as well.”
At Bullene’s court hearing on Tuesday, where bail was set at $15,000, prosecutors said it was not the first time Bullene had been investigated for an alleged road-rage incident.
According to police reports and court records, Seattle police pulled him over on June 17, 2010, after another driver reported that Bullene had followed him off Interstate 5 and thrown something at his vehicle.
Bullene reportedly told police that he was driving north on the freeway when the driver of a Volvo cut in front of him.
Bullene told officers he “flashed his high beam lights at the driver which then prompted the driver of the Volvo (to) flip him off,” police wrote in the report. Bullene also said the other driver pulled next to him on the freeway and swerved as if to hit him, police wrote.
He told police he followed the Volvo off I-5 and admitted it was a “poor decision,” but denied throwing anything, police wrote.
Bullene was not arrested, because he denied throwing anything and the Volvo had no damage.
Police were called on Feb. 11, 2012, after the wife of another driver said Bullene had threatened her husband while claiming he had a gun.
According to the police report, Bullene said he and Jarvinen had just gotten off the Fremont Bridge and were headed toward Dexter Avenue North and Westlake Avenue North when they were cut off by a red Jeep.
Bullene reportedly told police both vehicles turned onto Westlake and the other driver gave him “a dirty look.” The other driver then reportedly cut Bullene off a second time as they approached an area of construction, the report said.
Bullene followed the driver of the Jeep into an alleyway and then got out of his car when the Jeep came to a stop, according to the police report.
The other driver opened the back of his Jeep and was attempting to grab a pipe when Bullene allegedly pushed him against his vehicle. The man’s wife then called police.
When interviewed, Jarvinen reportedly said that Bullene “became furious” when the Jeep cut him off.
The other driver told police he attempted to grab the pipe to defend himself because Bullene was cursing and screaming as he approached. He said Bullene struck him several times before police arrived.
Nevertheless, the other driver told police he did not want to pursue the case and simply wanted an apology, the report said.
“Bullene apologized to (the other driver) for his poor judgment and said it will never happen again,” according to the police report.
Bullene, who has been out on bail since Tuesday evening, is scheduled for arraignment on May 28.
Bullene’s attorney, David Allen — who successfully represented Bullene in the earlier trial — urged people to keep an open mind.
“I hope people don’t jump to conclusions,” Allen said Thursday. “The last time, people heard one story and came to one conclusion before they learned the whole story.”