Trial began Thursday afternoon for two former Seattle firefighters and a woman accused of attacking a homeless man who was sleeping on a memorial to fallen firefighters in Occidental Park.
The former firefighters, Scott Bullene and Robert Howell, and Bullene’s girlfriend, Mia Jarvinen, were each charged with fourth-degree assault and malicious harassment, the state’s version of a hate crime. The three are being tried in Seattle Municipal Court.
According to police, the defendants were walking through Pioneer Square after attending a Seattle Sounders game at CenturyLink Field on March 15 when they saw a homeless man asleep on the Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
Witnesses told police said that when Howell, Bullene and Jarvinen saw the sleeping man, Jarvinen allegedly kicked at the man, yelled at him and threw the man’s food on him. Howell then started yelling about how the victim was disrespecting his “brothers” and began punching and “stomping” the man, police wrote in the report.
Police said the homeless man used a knife to ward off the attackers, cutting Bullene. Other people became involved, with one man attempting to use his walking staff to protect the victim, a witness said.
The witness said Bullene then “took his walking stick and started beating him with it.”
Police were initially called to McCoy’s Firehouse Bar & Grill by Howell, who allegedly reported that he was walking through the park with two friends when he was “suddenly attacked by some unknown person for some unknown reason.” Howell described his attacker as a “black male in his 30s wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt and bluejeans,” according to the police report.
Officers — who noted in their report that the three defendants seemed intoxicated — heard a different story from several witnesses who described Howell, Bullene and Jarvinen as the assailants, according to court documents.
Both Howell and Bullene were terminated in August, according to the Seattle Fire Department.
Jarvinen is listed as being a senior finance manager at Amazon.com.
If convicted, each defendant faces a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail, according to the City Attorney’s Office.