A Washington state woman diagnosed with tuberculosis and refusing numerous orders to isolate was seen boarding a bus to a casino by an officer who had been following her and had a warrant for her arrest, according to a court filing obtained Wednesday. .
Rather than arrest the woman, identified only as VN in documents filed in Pierce County Superior Court, the officer let her go and a local judge held her in contempt.
On April 7, Judge Philip K. Sorenson ordered her abducted and treated against her will, online records show.
Authorities have been unable to locate her, a Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman said in an email.
Tuberculosis, which once killed millions of people around the world but decreased to almost 7,900 cases in the United States in 2021, can be fatal if left untreated. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis is spread through the air when a person with an active case coughs, sneezes, or talks.
It is not clear which casino VN went to or why the officer, who was not identified in the filing, did not stop her. According to a statement filed in court by Patricia Jackson, head of the Pierce County Corrections Office, the officer was tasked with monitoring the woman in order to “safely” execute the warrant.
“The officer began surveillance immediately after receiving the warrant in March 2023 and observed a person he believed to be Defendant leaving his residence, boarding a city bus, and arriving at a local casino,” he said. Jackson.
The officer continued to monitor VN but discovered that he was not home, Jackson said. VN’s relatives did not respond, Jackson said, and she told the officer to stop watching her.
“It is believed that the defendant is actively preventing execution of the order,” Jackson said.
Jackson did not say why the officer did not arrest VN or why she asked him to stop watching her.
Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Darren Moss said his office «will not comment on how we conduct surveillance, when we do it, or when we will attempt to make an arrest after that person is in custody.»
Moss added that the chief’s statement was supposed to be sealed, but it wasn’t.
“By publishing this story, all the news agencies are basically telling the woman to continue to avoid us and warning her that we are watching her,” he said.
A court-appointed attorney for the woman, Sarah Tofflemire, said she had no information about the incident beyond what was included in the filing.
Sorenson signed the arrest warrant in March, describing it as a last resort after being asked 16 times by public health officials to order VN to take medication or self-isolate.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has declined to provide information on why the woman has flatly refused treatment. Low washington state lawPublic health officials have the legal authority to seek a court order when a person’s refusal to take medication poses a threat to the public.
In Previous court documents obtained by The Tacoma News TribuneTofflemire has said that his client can refuse to comply because he doesn’t understand what’s going on.
«She hasn’t acknowledged the existence of her own medical condition,» Tofflemire said, adding: «She’s mainly focused on how she dislikes the documents coming into her house, and not the importance of the process she’s in.» .