Bellevue police claim Seahawk fullback Derrick Coleman said he smoked synthetic marijuana before a crash in October. They recommended that the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charge him with felony hit-and-run and vehicular assault.
Bellevue police say Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman smoked synthetic marijuana before a hit-and-run crash in October that resulted in a serious injury to another driver.
Police on Monday turned their investigation over to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, recommending that Coleman be charged with felony hit-and-run and vehicular assault, according to prosecutor’s office spokesman Dan Donohoe.
Donohoe said the case is on Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim’s desk and she will need several weeks to review it.
While police can make charging recommendations, under state law the prosecutor’s office determines whether to file charges.
In a 101-page report released to the media by Bellevue police on Monday, investigators described Coleman as being “calm and cooperative” after the crash in the 13500 block of Southeast 36th Street just after 6 p.m. on Oct. 14.
Witnesses told police that Coleman was traveling about 60 mph in a 35 mph zone. Witnesses say Coleman swerved his truck into the center two-way left turn lane and swerved back, striking the rear of another car, the police report said.
Witnesses spoke to Coleman after the crash, describing him as “delirious and aggravated,” the report said. Another witness said he was “incoherent,” police said. Witnesses helped Coleman from the car, but he left the scene barefoot, police said. Officers caught up with him about two blocks away about 20 minutes after the crash.
Police said he struggled with the field-sobriety test. Officers found “a lighter, a glass spoon pipe with tarry residue, an opened bag of synthetic cannabinoid and three unopened bags of synthetic cannabinoids,” police said.
According to the report, Coleman told police he used “spice,” a synthetic substance sold under names such as Mojo, Black Mamba and Annihilation. Spice is said to mimic the high produced by marijuana. But authorities have warned of the health dangers of the drug that mixes herbs and chemicals.
In December 2010, the state Board of Pharmacy voted to classify synthetic marijuana chemicals as Schedule I controlled substances in Washington, making them illegal to make, possess and sell.
Coleman’s attorney, Stephen Hayne of Bellevue, said Monday that Coleman passed all field sobriety tests and that the substance his client reportedly said he took is “not an illegal substance and from all indications that we have heard it didn’t have an influence on his ability to drive. I don’t know what that has to do with it. It is an over-the-counter substance.
“I have seen the test results and I can be absolutely confident that there was nothing in his blood that would have impaired his ability to drive. … Our position is that he wasn’t driving recklessly and that he didn’t commit either of these offenses.’’
Hayne said he was stunned that the department released its full report before charges had been filed.
“I’ve never seen a police department issue what amounts to a manifesto of why they are filing their case before charges have ever been filed,’’ Hayne said. “In my opinion it is an attempt to save face by tarring Derrick with as many infractions as they could possibly divine from this incident.’’
Coleman, who turned 26 four days after the crash, did not report being injured. He was cooperative when officers contacted him, Bellevue Police Chief Steven Mylett said in October.
Asked why police did sobriety and blood tests at the scene, Mylett said: “It’s going really toward statements that were made and observations from the officer at the scene. All I can say is there was enough to warrant us bringing the DRE (drug recognition expert) out there and do sobriety tests and also to secure a search warrant for his blood.”
Coleman was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of vehicular assault and hit-and-run. On Oct. 16 he was released from jail without charges being filed.
The police report shows that the Bellevue police received toxicology results by Nov. 17. The Seahawks’ season ended Jan. 17, when the team lost a divisional playoff game at Carolina.
Seth Tyler, the police department’s public information officer, said the department would answer questions about the timing of the investigation and release of the report during a news conference Tuesday morning.
“Chief (Stephen Mylett) will be prepared to answer that, ’’ Tyler said.
After Coleman’s arrest, his agents, Derrick Fox and Mark Bloom, released a statement, which read in part: “While the facts of the case are still being determined, it seems Derrick may have fallen asleep while driving home from a Seahawks’ facility. … We will continue to work closely with the local officials while a full investigation is being conducted.”
When asked in October why Coleman left the scene, Hayne said the crash dislodged hearing aids Coleman wears and that his client might have been disoriented.
Coleman finished his third full season with the Seahawks and is now a restricted free agent. Seattle can match an offer from another NFL team or receive compensation if he signs elsewhere.
Coleman was initially suspended by the Seahawks after the crash and sat out a regular-season game against Carolina on Oct. 18.
He then was inactive the following week with a concussion.