As a third party listened in over the phone to the physical fight between a Liberty Lake man and woman on Friday, the line went dead. The disconnect came about the time the man was heard talking about "finishing this now."
Police Chief Brian Asmus was the first officer to respond to the scene, and he arrested the man for felony assault. He said the injuries to the woman and evidence through the investigation showed the man allegedly attempted to both gouge out the eye of the woman with his thumb and set her on fire.
IF YOU GO …
Second annual Domestic Violence Symposium
Presented by the Liberty Lake Police Department
9 a.m. to noon, Saturday
LLSWD Building 22510 E. Mission Ave.
Free (RSVP to 755-1140 is requested as lunch is provided)
Learn more about the impact domestic violence has in the Liberty Lake area and the resources available for those who need help or are looking to provide help.
Brian Asmus, chief of the Liberty Lake Police Department
• Sarah Foley, community education and outreach advocate for the YWCA Alternatives to Domestic Violence program
• Lou Thomson, emergency room nurse at Valley Hospital and Medical Center
• Stormi Koerner, detective with the Spokane Police Department
While the man arrested has been on the police's radar before, domestic violence incidents in the community are far from isolated to a known address or two, Asmus said. Incidents both physical and verbal have taken an increasing amount of the department's time, one reason the LLPD has stepped up community awareness of the issue with the second annual Community Domestic Violence Symposium, scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District's administration building, 22510 E. Mission Ave. (For more on this event, see breakout box to the left.)
The department also recently completed training with its officers in the Lethality Assessment Program. The program is being coordinated with other local law enforcement bodies and the YWCA, which offers a round-the-clock hotline and other domestic violence services, including a local shelter.
"The goal is to get victims to resources faster," Asmus said, explaining that the intent is to get a victim on the phone with an advocate before an officer ever leaves the scene of a domestic violence incident, if the victim is willing. "What typically happens is the bad guy goes to jail, a protection order is issued, but before you know it (the couple is) making up and saying, ‘Oh, it will never happen again.'"
The new regional resource and assessment program are intended to keep this cycle from continuing, often with worsening outcomes for the victim, Asmus said.
Annual domestic violence calls were up 17 percent in Liberty Lake from 2008 to 2011, while domestic violence assaults rose 55 percent during the same timeframe, according to LLPD data.