Dori: Before alleged Ballard kidnapping, repeat offender twice released with community bail funds

May 26, 2022, 8:44 AM | Updated: 9:20 am
Ryan Lee Popplewell, the man accused of a recent kidnapping/carjacking in Ballard (KIRO 7)...
Ryan Lee Popplewell, the man accused of a recent kidnapping/carjacking in Ballard (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

Even before Ryan Lee Popplewell was charged with an alleged attempt to steal a car with a child inside after a Ballard Little League game last week, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office considered him a “high priority repeat offender.”

Why then, The Dori Monson Show wanted to know, was this suspect – whose history includes 12 felony convictions and 28 previous arrests – out on bail in connection with three other felonies allegedly committed over the past nine months?

Despite prosecutors’ protests, documents show, Popplewell, 32, was back on the streets after a series of low bail amounts set by separate King County Superior Court judges – and bonds paid for by the Northwest Community Bail Fund (NCBF).

Before the Ballard incident, Popplewell’s most recent string started in September 2021, prosecutor’s office communications director Casey McNerthney told Dori and his listeners.

Since then, the suspect has been before judges in connection with two suspected West Seattle burglaries; an attempted lower Queen Anne car theft; and possession of a stolen vehicle in Auburn.

On two of those occasions, Popplewell, 32, was granted lower bail by separate King County Superior Court judges, despite prosecutors’ arguments that he was a danger to the community.

Bonds in those two cases were paid for by NCBF, a non-profit organization in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Its stated goal: “advocating for bail reform and working to minimize the harm of the cash bail system by paying bail for people who would otherwise spend the pretrial time in jail while awaiting routine court appearances.”

After Popplewell was released on May 10 with an ankle monitor by a judge who ordered him to get drug treatment, documents show that Popplewell is believed to have removed the device.

Within a week, according to witnesses, Popplewell tried stealing a car with a 5-year-old child inside at Ballard’s Ross Playfield on Third Avenue Northwest after a Little League game.

“Imagine that poor parent in that moment – seeing your car drive away and seeing your son is in there,” McNerthney told Dori. “That is a traumatic event that family will never forget.”

Court documents show the father jumped into the right rear window while trying to save his son. When others tried to intervene, Popplewell ditched the car, according to Seattle Police. At least one witness who tried to help was pepper-sprayed by Popplewell, according to investigators. After fleeing on foot to a nearby tent, the suspect was arrested by police.

At this week’s court appearance for the Ballard case, McNerthney said, a judge found probable cause to hold him for first-degree kidnapping; theft of a motor vehicle; and second-degree robbery against Popplewell. He remains in King County Jail on $250,000 bail.

Hear Dori’s entire interview with prosecutor’s office spokesman Casey McNerthney involving the suspected Ballard carjacker/kidnapper – repeat offender Ryan Lee Popplewell


Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Dori: Before alleged Ballard kidnapping, repeat offender twice released with community bail funds