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Former Tacoma council candidate Hardy charged with assault

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Nov. 17, 2011 at 10:48 am |
November 17, 2011 11:16 am

The City Attorney’s Office has filed assault charges against former Tacoma City Council candidate Michael Hardy stemming from an alleged fight at a military veterans’ party in July.

Hardy, 56, an electrician and former commander of Tacoma’s American Veterans Post No. 1 who this year unsuccessfully challenged Councilman David Boe,  was arraigned Wednesday on two counts of misdemeanor assault.  He pleaded not guilty and has denied wrongdoing.

According to charging papers,  Hardy assaulted two people — James Smith and Cristina Douthett — during an  altercation at an event at the AmVets post in South Tacoma on July 30.

Smith told police Hardy became upset with him because he had suggested Hardy, a Massachusetts native who speaks with a Boston accent, needed to “work on his accent to improve his chances for running for city council,” a probable cause affidavit states.

“Hardy appeared to get over it and offered to buy Smith a beer,” the affidavit states. “Smith said that when Hardy came back he threw the beer in his face and was then hit in the head. Smith could not be sure if it was the (beer) mug or Hardy’s fist that hit him but that he lost consciousness for a few seconds and then saw Hardy push a female bartender.”

Douthett, the bartender at the AmVets post, corroborates Smith’s account in the affidavit, telling authorities she observed Hardy in an altercation with Smith, who she knew as `Smitty.’  After seeing Hardy throw a beer in Smith’s face, Douthett headed toward the altercation, noticing “Smitty was now on the ground,” the affidavit states. “She didn’t see if he was pushed or hit.”

Douthett put her hands on Hardy and told him “he didn’t want to do this,” the affidavit says. Hardy then “grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her backwards causing her to slam into some glass doors.”

During an interview with The News Tribune on Oct. 3, Hardy conceded he had “an argument” with Smith at an AmVets after-party to a summer picnic. But Hardy denied he assaulted anyone and contends Smith caused all the trouble.

“He was highly intoxicated,” said Hardy, who had not been charged at the time.

Hardy claims he was on stage singing a Karaoke rendition of “Working at the Car Wash Blues” when Smith drunkenly rushed the stage and tried to take the microphone from him.

“He grabbed at the microphone and started yelling,” Hardy said. ” He was basically just being a drunken ass; just trying to interfere with me the whole time.”

After Hardy left the stage, he contends Smith continued to verbally harass and insult him.  Hardy said he argued with Smith and threw a beer in his face, but claims he didn’t touch Smith.

“He fell over backwards,” Hardy said.

Police were not called to the post that night, but the affidavit noted Smith “had to be transported to St. Joseph (Medical Center) for seizures.”

Pierce County prosecutors initially reviewed the case, but concluded the alleged assaults didn’t rise to the level of felonies. They passed the case to the City Attorney’s office, which formally filed assault charges on Nov. 2 following a lengthy review.

Hardy said in an email Wednesday he is set for a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 12.

If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail and a maximum of $5,000 in fines on each criminal count.

Hardy, a former Army paratrooper,  has said he ran this year against Boe for the council’s at-large Position 7 seat to be a voice for the city’s working class residents.  He garnered more than 14,000 votes — about 40 percent of all ballots cast in the race — but campaigned only sporadically and raised no money against the incumbent councilman.

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