Byron Barton charges denial of his rights by King County Sheriff in eviction; Sheriff's office responds
Disabled Vietnam veteran Byron Barton and his family were evicted Aug. 15 by the King County Sheriff's office but Barton claims in a letter to his attorney Jill J. Smith the the Natural Resource Law Group they his property (an iPad)was taken and not returned, his medications were left behind, and he was denied attorney counsel or a phone call and no charges were filed. King County Sheriff Media Relations officer Sergeant DB Gates responded to to the charges and explained the circumstances.
Here is Byron Barton's letter:
I am emailing you from Harborview Medical Center. I do not have access to my iPad (the sheriff took it), so I am emailing through my son.
The Sheriff's department came in this morning with guns drawn and said "King County Sheriff, you're under arrest for trespassing. We have a warrant". My son and wife were told to get on the ground, where they were then hand cuffed. They read each one of us our Miranda rights multiple times, but we were never shown a warrant. No paperwork of any kind was served to us. They just kicked us out.
Many things were left in the house. They would not let me get any of my medications, the backpack full of important family documents, or the significant amounts of cash in the house that we have been using to pay for both our lawsuit and the protest actions. Last I've heard, they are moving all our things into storage units. I fear that some of our remaining valuables left in the house might be stolen or damaged by either sheriff's deputies or the Triangle property employees now occupying our home.
I asked for my attorney and a phone call and they wouldn't give it to me.
My family was brought to a holding cell in Burien and released an hour later without any apparent charges.
I was taken to harborview medical center where they are now trying to discharge me to someplace else.
A social security supervisor from the VA has been assigned to directly handle my case. Her name is Tamra " Tammy" Thomas. She said that she can make sure I get short term care at an assisted living facility, replace all my lost medications, and find long-term section 8 housing for our whole family to stay in. She says we will not be homeless.
King County Sheriff Media Relations Officer Sergeant DB Gates responded to the charges.
She said that a warrant of this type is not like a search warrant but instead is for the purpose of making an arrest. That warrant was posted and left on the property.
"It's SOP (standard operating procedure), when making an arrest to handcuff people you are arresting," Gates said with the understanding that this is how an unpredictable situation is controlled.
Gates explained, "Most of media got it wrong this morning. This was not an eviction. This was an arrest for a criminal trespass. We conducted the actual eviction back in July."
She said that when you are arrested in a home like this (as opposed to an on street arrest) you "can't pick and choose what you want to take with you." She said that the Barton's possessions will be inventoried and boxed up by the assignees of Triangle Properties and placed in storage. The Bartons will "have a chance to redeem them" at a later date.
"We bent over backwards, we felt, when we did the eviction in July," Gates said, " We brought them suitcases and other things and they chose not to avail themselves of that opportunity. So this time that's not how it went down."
As to his attorney and phone call Gates explained, "There's a misunderstanding about that. People under arrest are not given a phone call immediately. When it's safe for them to do so that's when they can do that. He was taken to a hospital and his wife was released."
No charges were file because that's up to the Prosecutor's office and she was not certain whether any charges would be filed or not, Gates said.