A traffic stop involving an off-duty Vancouver police detective for one traffic violation in Washougal escalated into situations that resulted in additional charges.
According to a press release issued by the Washougal Police Department, Det. Jeremy Free was driving a vehicle that slowed and then rolled through the stop sign at 49th and P streets on Nov. 24, at approximately 11:04 p.m.
After WPD Cpl. Troy Martin activated his overhead lights, Free pulled to the side of the road and stopped, then lurched as if he had fumbled with the brakes, according to WPD Cmdr. Allen Cook.
“When Martin approached the car, the driver held a police badge up to the window and then cracked the window slightly and slid his driver’s license out then quickly rolled the window back up,” Cook said.
According to reports, Free refused to crack the window more than approximately one-half inch. He told Martin his wife was recording the incident on her cell phone.
There were two children in the car during the traffic stop.
After Martin informed Free that he smelled a strong odor of intoxicants coming from the car and asked him to step out of his vehicle, Free questioned how Martin could smell alcohol with the window only partially open. Free then argued with Martin regarding the reason for the stop.
Martin requested assistance from dispatch after Free refused to get out of the car. Eventually, the officers issued a criminal citation for obstructing a law enforcement officer. The citations were handed to Free’s wife, who agreed to drive after she provided a breath sample with a portable breath tester.
Another criminal citation was sent to the Camas-Washougal Municipal Court, charging Free with first-degree negligent driving. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Three days after the traffic stop, WPD officers went to Free’s house at 9:26 p.m. to execute a search warrant for the couple’s cell phones. The officers saw Free respond to the ringing of the doorbell by turning on the lights above the upstairs landing.
“Free was holding a black semi-automatic pistol in his right hand,” Cook said. “An officer yelled through the door that they were the police and asked Free to come down and talk to them. Free looked at the officers for a couple of seconds without responding. The officers repeated that they were police officers and needed to talk to him. Free still did not respond and returned to his bedroom.”
Attempts to serve the search warrant were not successful until Free called someone to pick up his two daughters. After that person arrived, the 50-minute standoff ended and Free was taken into custody without further incident.
Free was charged with a second offense of obstructing a law enforcement officer. He was booked and later released from the WPD.
Cook said the investigation is ongoing, and additional charges may be pending.
According to VPD Public Information Coordinator Kim Kapp, Free was hired in July 2003. He is currently on paid administrative leave because of the incidents in Washougal.