Frightening Fauntleroy ferry incident ends with no injuries

A man in crisis leapt onto a boarding ferry at the Fauntleroy Dock the evening of April 14.

A man in crisis leapt onto a boarding ferry at the Fauntleroy Dock the evening of April 14, briefly requiring Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers and King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies to intervene and arrest the man, according to police.

Instead of being booked into jail, the 25-year-old man was involuntarily committed because he was in a behavioral crisis, therefore The Beachcomber is not naming him.

According to an SPD report, a ferry staff member told officers that the man had been walking back-and-forth on the dock for more than an hour, at one point pressing various buttons and pulling levers on the dock.

At some point, the ferry worker said, the man tried to swipe his credit card to access a restricted area, and stood on the rails of the dock, threatening to jump into the water.

The staff member said that when the ferry approached the dock and began lowering its ramp, the man ran aboard, where he was confronted by several ferry staff members — and a sheriff’s deputy, who serendipitously was aboard the ferry and on her way to work.

SPD officers arrived around 8:42 p.m. to reports that the man who was running around on Fauntleroy Way and threatening to hit ferry employees if they did not take him to the Olympia area. (The Triangle Route from Fauntleroy makes stops at Vashon and at Southworth on the Kitsap Peninsula.)

Ferry employees directed arriving officers to the lobby area, where the sheriff’s deputy was trying to take the man into custody. After several minutes, the officers and deputy detained the man, who was refusing to allow them to place handcuffs on his wrists and trying to pull and twist away.

Law enforcement officers placed a “spit sock” over his head and face as a precaution, “due to excessive amounts of saliva coming from his mouth,” according to the SPD report, and officers monitored his breathing in the spit sock throughout the incident.

Islander Katjarina Hurt, who witnessed the end of the incident, arrived at the Fauntleroy Dock as a walk-on passenger for a trip home just as the SPD officers were arriving.

“We could hear (the young man) on the car deck of the boat shouting loudly … something about wanting to get to Lacey,” she said.

People were climbing out of their cars to watch or film the situation, she said, prompting the ferry captain to instruct passengers to remain in their vehicles for their own safety.

Hurt praised the police response, which she said did provoke grumbles from at least one fellow ferry traveler who wondered “why isn’t this guy in custody already.”

But that was “because he wasn’t treated brutally” and officers took their time apprehending him, Hurt said: “They did everything (well), from what we could tell. … This was a bad situation, (but) it got handled really well.”

“No one died,” she said. “No one got shot.”

Hurt recalled hearing a taser deployed — although both SPD and the KCSO said none of their officers used a taser during the incident — and she saw him taken away by medical responders while in the spit sock. (Hurt said that whether or not a taser was used, the officers “did a fantastic job” in getting the man under control safely.)

Hurt said she eventually got on a boat at 9:45 p.m.

Due to his threats to harm himself, profuse sweating and erratic behavior, officers cleared the Seattle Fire Department to take the man in for involuntary mental health treatment at Harborview Medical Center. He was taken at about 9:20 p.m., an SPD communications officer said.

(In Washington State, involuntary commitment is a legal process that can force someone who’s a danger to themselves or others, or in imminent danger from disability, into mental health treatment.)

The ferry was briefly delayed, but no injuries were reported among ferry staff or passengers, according to police.