Sheriff Sgt. says Deputy lost consciousness in altercation

Sequim Gazette

An assault charge against a Sequim man was upgraded after review of the injuries sustained by a Clallam County Sheriff’s deputy during an altercation March 14.


During a March 18 hearing in Clallam County Superior Court, Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor John Troberg said Deputy Todd Yarnes suffered “substantial bodily harm” while trying to subdue Ha-Qwenith Grinnell, 21, of Sequim, during a domestic dispute.


Clallam County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Hollis said in an arrest report deputies responded to a call for help from a family member who was concerned about Grinnell’s mental state after he threatened to kill them.

Yarnes and Deputy Michael Dick tried to detain Grinnell for a possible Involuntary Treatment Act assessment but he became combative, Hollis said.


Yarnes suffered a concussion, loss of consciousness and loss of memory after being hit and kicked in the head, Hollis said.


Dick was struck in the head, bending his glasses and causing him to fall and cut open the back of his head, requiring three staples, Hollis said.


The deputies both used electrical control devices, which were ineffective, and ultimately Yarnes used pepper spray to subdue Grinnell, Hollis said.


Yarnes will not be able to return to work for at least two weeks, possibly longer, Troberg said during the hearing.


Troberg said he intends to file an amended charge of second-degree assault to replace one of two third-degree assault charges against Grinnell.


The court ordered a mental health assessment for Grinnell, to be completed within 48 hours of his first court appearance on March 15.  Results of the assessment are not released to the public.Troberg and Harry Gasnick, director of the Public Defender’s Office representing Grinnell, both read a copy of the assessment at Friday’s hearing.


Gasnick said he will meet with Grinnell to determine if he should look into a competency defense. He noted Grinnell had several family members present to show their support and requested he be released into the care of his family.


Troberg said it may be necessary to have a state mental health evaluation and requested bail remain at $50,000 for the sake of public safety.


Ultimately Judge Ken Williams agreed with the prosecution.


“I do have grave concerns about public safety,” he said, noting Grinnell is accused of causing substantial injuries to two well-trained officers.


Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict sat with the family during the hearing. Benedict said he has known Grinnell since Grinnell was a child and is neighbors with his family.


Benedict said it is important Grinnell is treated for his mental health issues so he can be brought back as a productive member of society.


Grinnell is scheduled to be arraigned in Clallam County Superior Court on March 25.

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