Pierce County Deputy on the Run Since Being Charged With Felony Arrested in California


A Pierce County sheriff's deputy charged with a felony in May for trashing his family home was arrested last week in California and fired by the department Wednesday.

Michael A. Phipps, 49, is suspected of causing at least $50,000 in damage to his and his wife's Eatonville home in May, according to court documents. He faces a charge of first-degree malicious mischief, a class B felony. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest last month.

Phipps was fired by the Pierce County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday for violating department policy on breaking the law, according to spokesperson Sgt. Darren Moss. He had been a deputy since November 2000.

Phipps has not reported for duty since he was granted a leave of absence in June 2021, according to Moss. Phipps was notified May 4 that he would be placed on administrative assignment, or desk duty, should he return to work.

Moss would not disclose whether Phipps was paid during his leave of absence, citing privacy laws.

Pierce County Superior Court issued Phipps' wife a one-year protection order against the former deputy late last month. He was required to surrender any weapons as a part of that order.

Phipps has received mental health and substance abuse treatment on and off since spring 2020 following the death of colleagues and his father, according to a court filing in the protection-order case.

His wife alleged he shot a gun into the floor and grabbed her neck in an October 2021 incident, according to court documents. She said he was involuntarily committed in February after further incidents and cleared out their joint checking and savings accounts in April.

Phipps' wife found their home flooded on May 2 and alleged her husband had cut plumbing lines, turned on all the faucets and broke toilets, a court filing shows. She also accused him of taking an ax to her piano, leaving a car running in the closed garage and stealing personal documents.

She filed for divorce in mid-May, according to court records.

"It truly is heartbreaking that it has come down to criminal charges and a [domestic violence protection order] against Michael," his wife wrote in a court filing.

The details of Phipps' arrest in California were not immediately available.

He is scheduled to appear in Riverside County Superior Court on June 17.

Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office spokesperson Adam Faber said Phipps has waived extradition and could be transported to Pierce County as early as next week.