Man punches Kent Police officer, strikes her with flashlight during vicious attack

Officer suffers broken facial bones during West Hill incident

A 37-year-old Arizona man faces a second-degree assault charge for allegedly punching a Kent Police officer in the face and hitting her in the face with her flashlight during an investigation into a drunk driving report.

Jennifer Prusa, in her ninth year with the department, suffered an orbital floor fracture to her face, a broken nose and a bruised eye that was swollen shut in the May 27 incident, according to King County Superior Court documents. The man reportedly punched Prusa at least four times in the face and hit her at least four times with the flashlight.

Doctors treated Prusa at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center for fractured facial bones and a broken nose.

King County prosecutors charged Brett Max Barney, of Safford, Ariz., with second-degree assault for intentionally and recklessly inflicting substantial bodily harm upon Prusa. Barney remains in custody at the county jail in Seattle. He is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Monday, June 11 in Courtroom GA at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

The incident began at about 2 p.m. May 27 in the 2100 block of South 250th Street in the Saltair Hills neighborhood on the West Hill, just west of Pacific Highway South.

A witness reported a possible drunk driver in a Chevy Silverado truck and helped Prusa track down the vehicle parked outside of a home. A witness told the officer the driver had gone into a nearby home. The man apparently knew people at the home but didn’t live there. Another witness told Prusa the pickup nearly hit him as he loaded his van.

Prusa knocked on the door. Barney answered, and stepped outside to talk to the officer, according to court documents. Prusa asked him if the Silverado was his truck and he said, “It’s not my truck.” The officer noted Barney had trouble maintaining his balance and seemed to be impaired. She grabbed his right forearm and told Barney he was being detained.

“Get your (bleeping) hands off me bitch. …You are not detaining me,” Barney said.

Barney tried to pull his arm away from the officer and then turned and punched her in the face with his left hand, according to the police report. He continued to throw punches but Prusa blocked them. Prusa then tried to sweep Barney’s legs to take him to the ground but both of them fell to the ground with Prusa landing on her butt and Barney on top of her.

As the struggle continued, Barney grabbed the aluminum flashlight off the officer’s belt and struck her in the face and head. He also tried to grab her pistol, but was unable to grab it due to the retention devices. Prusa rolled on her side to prevent Barney from grabbing the gun and she retrieved her Taser. Barney tried to grab the Taser before he fled back into the house.

Prusa told a Kent detective she was in fear of being killed by Barney.

Despite her injuries, Prusa got off the ground and used her radio for a Code 2, which means she is in desperate need of immediate assistance and all officers available should respond. She began a foot pursuit of Barney, who fled out of the back of the house and ran through nearby yards. At one point, Barney threw the flashlight at Prusa.

Officer Robert Constant saw Barney emerge from a nearby hedge at South 250th Street and 22nd Avenue South. The officer drew his gun and ordered Barney to the ground. Barney didn’t comply and clenched his fists ready to fight. Constant kicked Barney in the groin to get him to the ground before another officer arrived to help handcuff him.

Meanwhile, a woman who had been a passenger in the Silverado, got behind the wheel and fled the home in the 2100 block of South 250th Street shortly after the fight between Barney and Prusa. An officer pulled over the vehicle in the 25400 block of Pacific Highway South. The officer held the woman at gunpoint until more officers arrived.

Police arrested the woman for investigation of driving under the influence, obstructing an officer, vehicle trespass and possession of drug paraphernalia. Officers found an open can of beer inside the truck.

Police later discovered the pair reportedly robbed a convenience store in Olympia earlier in the day. Video from the store showed Barney wearing the same clothing as when Kent Police arrested him. Barney reportedly punched a Shell gas station clerk in the face before stealing about $800.

Officers also found out the Silverado had been stolen May 9 in Arizona, where the man and woman were from. They apparently knew people on the West Hill from a previous connection.

Barney’s criminal history includes attempting to elude in Washington in 2006, burglary in California in 2012 and assault in Arizona in 2006.

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla declined to comment about the attack on Prusa, her condition or when she might return to work.

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