Under the Pine I-5 overpass: ‘no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases…’

On Monday afternoon, just before 2p, a bloodied man told police he had been beaten in the fenced-off area below the Pine Street overpass of I-5. This West Precinct write-up on the incident is remarkable for the candor in which the responding officer describes the area many of us walk, ride and drive above every day.

“This area is below street level and any activities or incidents would be completely out of view,” writes Officer William Collins. “This area is a no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases, drug addicts and sundry criminals.  The area is littered with garbage, feces, narcotics paraphernalia, grafitti (sic) and slumbering drunks.”

The complete report on the officer’s findings — and a few more colorful insights — below.



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{At the above time, date and location passersby called 911 to report that
V/   had been the victim of an assault and was calling for assistance.
 I was dispatched as the primary officer and arrived with SFD already on
the scene.  SFD Aid 25 was treating V/   head wound.

V  told me that he had been in a no trespassing area at the base of
the I-5 Pine St. overpass.  This area is below street level and any
activities or incidents would be completely out of view.  This area is a no
man's land populated by the homeless, mental cases, drug addicts and sundry
criminals.  The area is littered with garbage, feces, narcotics
 paraphernalia, grafitti and slumbering drunks.

V  , who stays in Kent but does not know the address, stated that he
was under the bridge to simply "smoke a joint."  He stated that he has seen
the described suspect there before and believes that he lives there.  He
states that when S/1 passed by him he said "What's up?"  For no reason S/1
turned around and struck V   over the head with a hard, blunt object,
possibly a pipe or similar object.

V   was dazed by the blow and went down but got up and kept his hands
up as S/1 attempted to strike him again multiple times.  V   had no
defense wounds to either his hands or forearms that I or SFD could see.
V/  immediately began to call for help and S/1 fled the scene.
V   then made his way to street level bleeding badly and leaving a
trail of blood.  There V   was met by SFD, SPD and then transported
 to HMC by AMR.

I could locate no witnesses at the scene and V   stated that there
had been no one else present.  I followed the trail of blood in reverse
down the trail along the overpass.  At the point where the trail began was
unremarkable.  There were no signs of a struggle in the dirt and the
surrounding trash did not appear to be disturbed.  I did not locate the
weapon.  Just a few feet away was a clean syringe, Bic lighter and
makeshift narcotics pipe neatly laid out on the overpass's foundation.

This fact with V   own admission that he was there to smoke
narcotics suggested to me that he was not telling the whole truth.  The
syringe, pipe and lighter suggests that more serious narcotics than
marijuana was to be consumed.  It also suggested that victim and suspect
had been together and that there was possibly a disagreement, contested
 sale of narcotics or robbery invovled.  The above scenarios are all
possible and all common.  Much more common than a possibly deadly assault
with a weapon that comes with no warning for no reason.
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14 thoughts on “Under the Pine I-5 overpass: ‘no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases…’

  1. We should get reports from this officer more often, he’s a great writer.
    Can’t help but wonder if he scribes detective novels on the side . . .

  2. I had a weird experience at one of these overpasses, though not this one… About a year ago I was quietly walking across I-5 when I was randomly threatened by a guy who seemed to be living behind the fences at the overpass at Eastlake/Lakeview/Belmont. I knew he was bluffing with his threats and that the right reaction is to just walk past, so I did that without a problem, but it was freaky enough that I called the cops, just to sort of say “hey, this guy might be a little nuts and violent, you should check it out”. I didn’t find that very helpful; they wanted me to meet an officer and give a report, but I didn’t want to make a big thing of it, only to sort of give an anonymous tip… I’ve been a bit more mindful of my surroundings at these overpasses ever since.

  3. This is a very chronic problem at this location. Why the hell is the SPD not arranging (with other City or State agencies) to clean it up and fence it off? This should be a reasonably simple thing to do, and would prevent future trouble. Also, it might lead to some help for the denizens who inhabit the place.

    I would guess that this area is on State land, since it is adjacent to the freeway. Is there a turf/jurisdictional problem preventing any definitive solution?

  4. Didn’t the governor sign something into law a few years ago limiting police authority on DOT property? Since Seattle’s homeless are a protected class, I imagine any efforts made to go through and clean this place up would be construed as harassment. What was up with the Medical Examiner’s van there yesterday? Did anyone else see what was going on right around lunch time?

  5. All that would accomplish would be to push them up onto street level, so instead of using narcotics under the bridge they would be doing it in the alley behind your building.

  6. The area IS fenced off, and the city has cleaned it up several times. But they climb over the fence, often having to hang off the edge of the wall above the express lane entrance/exit to get around it. There’s nothing the city can do save post a guard there 24/7. This is only one of MANY such areas around I5.

  7. I love how the I5 north bound emergency lane has become their personal dumpster. On any day on my commute you can see sleeping bags, furniture, clothing, they just throw it off. It’s pretty.

  8. What is most remarkable about Officer Collin’s report is how beautifully written it is. I’ve read hundreds of clunky, half-literate police reports as a prosecutor’s assistant, and this report is exceptional. Officer Collin writes with a crystalline brevity, at once succinct and lyrical. If he ever gets tired of being a beat cop, he could write about the experience, and it would probably be a pretty good book.

    The unexceptional part of this report is that the events in it are so very common. In the recent senate vote on the debt crisis, America the Christian Country has become even meaner in it’s abandonment of the poor, homeless, sick and addicted amongst us. Were we to provide the social services this population needs instead of using tax dollars to fly million dollar war jets around in the sky for Seafair entertainment, we would see a fraction of this kind of activity. Instead of funding the highly-privatized incarceration industry, we could create jobs providing critical services that would lead to prevention.

  9. I disagree, if we provide more money to the programs that need this, the problems will just increase. Known in the nomadic homless community as ‘freeatle’, throwing money at a problem does not solve it.

  10. I saw a lot of cops on the Denny overpass last night around 9pm. I went online to the Seattle scanner feed, and heard that someone fell onto the express lanes, which they were in the process of blocking off. He was reported to be alert and relatively ok. He fell 20-25 feet onto pavement, but only appeared to fracture his elbow and hip, according to the EMTs. He Wasn’t struck by any vehicles. They think he was living under the freeway. That’s all I heard.

  11. Drug treatment programs, a safe place to sleep at night and case work are all potent ways of helping to break cycles of homelessness and substance abuse. It is naive to think that cutting funding will help. Social services won’t help all homeless people, but they help many. In countries like Sweden and Denmark where there is ample help available for people with mental illness and addiction, rates of assault such as the one reported here are rare.