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I Brought My Own Stripes


There are plenty of possible explanations of why Jeffrey Ward was wearing a Kootenai County Jail jumpsuit underneath his regular clothes last Monday night. Maybe, for instance, after getting booked 14 times by the Kootenai Kops in the last dozen years for a variety of minor (open container) and not-so-minor (battery of a jail deputy) crimes, Ward had garnered enough points on his punchcard to earn a commemorative onesie. Maybe orange jumpsuits are more comfortable than we folks on the outside give them credit for. Or maybe, and this seems likely, Ward simply dressed to match his mood.

Whatever the reason, Ward's fashion sense proved to be prescient as he walked along East Appleway Road just west of the Idaho border in Liberty Lake, Wash., just after 11 p.m. When officer Taj Wilkerson, one of only nine officers in Liberty Lake, pulled alongside Ward to chat, the oft-arrested 30-year-old would reportedly have none of it. According to officer reports recounted in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Ward was immediately combative, pinning Wilkerson against the police cruiser and making a desperate grab for the officer's sidearm. Wilkerson managed to slip free, at which point he squeezed off four rounds at Ward, striking him in the knee and arm. The provincial cavalry arrived in a flash and transported both scrappers to the hospital. Wilkerson was treated for a variety bruises and contusions, while Ward required surgery and three days of bed-time before he was finally transferred into the Spokane County Jail and charged with a felony count of third-degree assault on a police officer.