Security Officer, Deputies Commended After Man Tries to Take Deputy’s Gun in Lewis County Courtroom

Posted

Two Lewis County corrections deputies and a court security officer were recognized this week for their “quick and efficient” response to a man who attempted to take an officer’s gun while being arrested in Lewis County District Court. 

The man, whose name hasn’t been released, had a hearing with Judge Wade Samuelson on Nov. 24 regarding an arrest warrant. Samuelson called the jail to take the defendant into custody and instructed the defendant to wait on the jail bench in the courtroom, but the defendant “was sullen and defiant and refused to go sit on the jail bench. Instead, he remained at the podium staring me down and making inane comments,” said Samuelson in a letter to Lewis County Corrections Bureau Captain Christopher Tawes about the incident. 

Court Security Officer Neil Hoium was called in to assist and he advised the jail of the situation before speaking with the defendant, “trying to convince him to go sit on the bench voluntarily,” according to Samuelson. 

Corrections Deputies David Rodkey and Bradley Garnas arrived from the jail and “seamlessly coordinated with Officer Hoium” to try and take the defendant into custody without incident. The defendant reportedly “remained defiant and resisted their attempts to handcuff him” and the incident escalated, with the officer attempting “to use their superior numbers to their advantage and use only as much force as was needed to affect the arrest safely,” according to Samuelson. 

All parties ended up on the floor as the struggle ensued. 

“At some point,” said Samuelson, “the defendant attempted to take Deputy Garnas’ gun.” 

Hoium deployed his taser, and the officers were able to safely take the defendant into custody. 

“The response of the deputies in this matter was remarkable. They remained professional with a very disrespectful and unpredictable individual, but all the while they remained in firm control of the situation,” said Samuelson. “… Obviously, had the defendant successfully obtained a gun, everyone in the courtroom would have been in immediate, life-threatening danger.” 

The letter, dated Nov. 29, was forwarded to Rodkney and Garnas along with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Lewis County Board of Commissioners. 

Commissioner Lindsey Pollock publicly commended the officers involved during a county meeting Tuesday morning. 

“It was the rapid and thoughtful and skilled actions of those employees that prevented what could have been a very, very serious situation,” she said. “We appreciate Judge Samuelson reaching out with commendation for them.” 

Hoium, a retired Centralia Police Officer, has been the designated security guard at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center since the position was created in March 2019 out of concern at the time for ongoing security problems at the center. 

The Law and Justice Center recently took on a second security guard, who shares Hoium’s responsibilities patrolling the center and sitting in on hearings.