MOSES LAKE — Perhaps it was, as the unidentified man said, a lover’s quarrel that got him pepper-sprayed, hands cuffed behind his back as he staggered into the Columbia Basin Herald office Friday afternoon, bleary-eyed and red in the face.
Perhaps it was just bad luck.
Either way, the man, who appeared to be in his early twenties, pulled open the Herald’s front door with his elbow. He asked for water to rub his eyes out, which he had difficulty opening. He was barely able to see, he said, but he was aware of how alarming his situation seemed.
“Go ahead and call the cops,” the man said. “I just need water.”
Herald staff called the police, unsure if local law enforcement had misplaced a fugitive. A few minutes later, two officers from the Moses Lake Police Department arrived on the scene. Their confusion, like our own, was evident.
The man said the incident occurred when his girlfriend — ex-girlfriend now, he said repeatedly — pepper-sprayed him and cuffed his hands behind his back. He said the altercation began when she had found marijuana in his backpack and believed that he had stolen it from her.
The man did not specify how his girlfriend had managed to place both of his wrists in handcuffs, or whether she had pepper-sprayed him before or after using the handcuffs, only commenting that, “I told them I wouldn’t run.”
The man did not respond to questions regarding whether there were more people involved than himself and his girlfriend, and he did not respond to questions for his name.
Officers helped the man out of his cuffs, which they described as “the real deal,” and assisted him with getting water to rub his eyes out. Though he had arrived to the Herald’s offices fully clothed, the man’s shirt had by now been cut along the back for use as a rag.
However, water appeared to provide only temporary relief for the man’s suffering, and officers suggested that he get out of the sun and take a shower. The man requested a ride back to the Larson community where he lived, but officers declined.
“I’ve seen a few people pepper-sprayed in domestic violence cases before,” said one officer as he was leaving the scene. When asked if he had ever seen anyone domestically pepper-sprayed and handcuffed at the same time, the officer laughed.
“No, nothing like that,” he said.