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Woman alleges deputies mistreated her

An Olalla woman alleging her mental and physical health was ruined after she was assaulted last year by Kitsap County deputies when they responded to her house last year, filed a claim with the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners in May stating she intends to sue the county for up to $20 million.

Lori Armstrong — and her son Christopher Armstrong — allege that when deputies arrived to investigate an incident involving a vehicle towed by an acquaintance of Armstrong’s that hit a fence separating her and her neighbor’s properties, at least one of the three deputies who questioned her became immediately verbally abusive and hostile with her.

Armstrong claims when the deputies arrived, she expressed her reticence to talk about the incident within earshot of her neighbors, but the deputy questioning her told her to “shut up.”

When she asked to speak with a supervisor and walked away, she claims the deputy “violently attacked her,” pulling out a chunk of her hair as he allegedly grabbed her by the back of the head, jerking her head back and forth and gripping her neck to restrain her.

Armstrong also alleges that at the time of the incident she was both disabled and hard of hearing and, although she exclaimed that her left arm was paralyzed, the deputy “purposely and violently jerked (her) injured arm behind her back causing severe injury.”

According to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department incident report, the first deputy to speak with Armstrong — Mark Gundrum — claims she became uncooperative almost immediately after the officers arrived at her home on the 14000 block of Wiley Lane SE in South Kitsap on May 15, 2003, after a neighbor called 911 to report potential domestic violence.

Gundrum noted in the report that Armstrong “appeared to be intoxicated and ... was somewhat belligerent” and after the deputy questioned whether she was being entirely truthful with him, Armstrong refused to speak to him further and walked away.

The deputy claims he had to run to catch up with Armstrong and when he attempted to restrain her, she forcefully pulled away and resisted, “screaming hysterically that she was paralyzed ... (then) changed her statement ... to having a shoulder injury.”

When another deputy on scene — Joshua Miller — told Gundrum he believed Armstrong may in fact be injured, Gundrum claims he told Armstrong he would not handcuff her if she cooperated, then released her to Deputy Krista McDonald.

According to McDonald, Armstrong was immediately uncooperative with her, refusing to give basic information and yelling at her, at one point accusing “all Kitsap County deputy sheriffs of being ‘domestic violence abusers just like (late Tacoma Police Chief David) Brame.’ ”

McDonald also claims that Armstrong repeatedly exclaimed that her shoulder was “dislocated,” although the deputy could discern no such injury to Armstrong. After all attempts to calm her down were unsuccessful, McDonald claims she ended contact with her.

According to Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Scott Wilson, Armstrong was charged following the incident with one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer in Kitsap County District Court, although the charges were later dropped.

Armstrong also alleges in her claim — which must be filed with the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners prior to suing the county — that Deputy Joshua Miller also “assaulted (Christopher) and bodyslammed (him) into the ground. Miller wrote in his report that he restrained Christopher, 19, after the teen rushed toward Gundrum and Armstrong, claiming concern for his mother.

Armstrong alleges that the incident “completely ruined the emotional and mental health” of both her and her son, and forced her into therapy “as a result of (the) brutal and unprovoked attack.”

Both plaintiffs claim they suffer from “ongoing emotional stress, mental anguish and fatigue, along with both physical and mental harm.”

The Armstrongs have not determined a specific amount of damages, but estimate them to be between $10 and $20 million.

Wilson said the claim is being handled by the Civil Division of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, and “since this claim may result in a civil lawsuit, any further response from the Sheriff’s Office would be inappropriate.”

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