JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Seattle principal stonewalled police after man terrorized school

Jun 5, 2022, 6:01 PM

Sand Point School (Seattle Public Schools)...

Sand Point School (Seattle Public Schools)

(Seattle Public Schools)

A man suspected of being high on meth allegedly jumped over the fence at a Seattle elementary school, entered a portable classroom, and attempted to steal students’ backpacks. It prompted a school lockdown. But when police arrived, the school principal would not cooperate. It likely played a role in the suspect then attempting to hijack a delivery van moments later.

The suspect is 20-year-old Liban Harasam and, according to police, is a High Utilizer — the designation for prolific offenders that the Seattle City Attorney will now prioritize after arrest.

Police say Harasam arrived at Sand Point Elementary school just before 2:30pm last Thursday. Police documents allege he hopped the fence to the campus where, according to a parent, he was allegedly “harassing students and staff.” The parent said he “proceeded to rifle through [student] backpacks and touch many of them on their heads and backs” while wielding a tennis racket.

Police were called after the school went into lockdown. But Principal Richard Baileykaze, according to the incident report, would not cooperate with police, effectively preventing an arrest.

Uncooperative principal

When one officer arrived, he saw parents gathered outside of the school. The officer was not initially told the school was on lockdown.

“I met Principal R. [Baileykaze], in the north parking lot. He was observing the suspect with two other teachers. He provided very little information about the incident. I was only advised that the suspect jumped the fence,” the officer wrote in his incident report.

The officer observed Harasam “walking around in circles” while repeatedly dropping personal items, according to the report. He may have been high or experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Principal R. [Baileykaze] and the other two teachers would not speak to me. I had not been advised of any crime, so I contacted the suspect thinking I was performing a welfare check, due to his mental state. He appeared to be under the influence of narcotics or possibly having a mental episode,” the officer wrote.

Harasam would not speak to the officer and walked off.

“Once HARASAM, LIBAN left the school grounds, Principal R. [Baileykaze] now stated the suspect took a child’s backpack,” the report alleges.

Principal ‘destroyed probable cause’

The officer now had probable cause for misdemeanor theft — he just needed the info of the student so he would have a victim.

“Principal R. [Baileykaze] now claimed HARASAM, LIBAN had the backpack. Principal R. [Baileykaze] turned away from me and walked off. He refused to advise me if anything had been taken from the backpack. He continued to walk away. I advised radio of the principal’s uncooperative behavior, which destroyed probable cause that a
crime occurred. I was unable to validate his earlier claims of a crime,” the report says.

Again, the principal would not help, allowing the suspect to walk, according to police.

“I no longer had probable cause that crime occurred, since there was no victim identified for the theft, and Principal R. [Baileykaze] walked off refusing to cooperate,” the officer writes in the report.

Suspect accused of assault and vehicle prowling

Without the ability to arrest, Harasam ran away. Not long after, he was accused of assault and attempting to steal a DHL delivery van.

According to an incident report by a second officer, the DHL driver “stated that he had left his van running while he made a quick drop off.” That’s when he says he saw Harasam enter the van.

“[The driver] began yelling at the male to get out, believing the suspect was about to steal the vehicle. [The driver] got to the door of the vehicle and was stuck in the face with what he believed was a blue binder. He attempted to move out of the way of the strike, but was hit in the mouth causing a split bleeding lip. The [driver] pulled the male out of the vehicle, but the suspect grabbed at the mounted cell phone that the victim had by the steering wheel. The victim believed that the suspect was attempting to steal his phone before exiting the vehicle,” the report states.

Two witnesses corroborate the driver’s story, with one saying it was the same suspect previously on school grounds.

Fighting the cops

Harasam allegedly fled the scene to board a King County Metro bus. When officers boarded the bus, the suspect allegedly tried to fight them.

As one officer was “trying to get LIBAN into handcuffs, LIBAN purposely used his body and slammed [an officer’s] wrist into the window of the bus causing substantial pain and possible injury,” a third incident report states.

That officer, according to a source, fractured her arm or wrist as a result.

After finally placing Harasam into handcuffs and removing him from the bus, “LIBAN was struggling the entire time and was shouting ‘you don’t have probably [sic] cause.'”

The incident report says it took four officers to hold Harasam down. Seattle Fire responded and medics “arrived to subdue” him due to his “erratic” behavior.

After the arrest, police say they found stolen items on Harasam, some of which were returned to their owner.

This could have been avoided

The alleged van theft and assault against officers could have been prevented had principal Baileykaze cooperated with police. Without a victim, it’s difficult to establish probable cause for an arrest unless the officer witnessed the crime occur. This allowed Harasam time to leave the scene and allegedly commit the other crimes.

Neither Baileykaze nor SPS spokespeople responded to multiple requests for comment made over the weekend.

The principal’s conduct, as outlined in the incident, is deeply troubling. A number of officers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say it is common for Seattle Public School staff to stonewall officers after an initial 911 call is made. It’s unclear if this is a result of an SPS policy forcing staff to not cooperate with police or this is due to anti-police sentiment by SPS staff.

Suspect is charged

Police identify Harasam as a High Utilizer in the city of Seattle with multiple police contacts and arrests. The new Seattle City Attorney, Ann Davison, has identified dozens of High Utilizers responsible for a large number of local crimes. These cases are prioritized in her office to keep those suspects off the streets.

According to court documents, Harasam faces charges of first degree criminal trespass, two counts of assault, vehicle prowling and resisting arrest.

His bail was set at $10,000 and court records show he refused to attend his arraignment. Harasam has a competency evaluation hearing on Monday, June 6

Harasam was previously cited for assault in May, 2020 but under previous City Attorney Pete Holmes, the city did not file charges.

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