Police throw book at alleged tennis shoe shoplifter
by Chris Harris Commonwealth Journal
Shoplifting. Prescription pills. An altercation with police. All allegedly played a role in an incident at a major local store in which a Science Hill man was arrested.
Eugene F. Higinbotham, 38, was charged with nine different counts of criminal behavior after provoking authorities at Walmart Monday night, according to the Somerset Police Department.
Somerset Police Officer Andrew Wilson responded to the store that evening at about 8 p.m. to investigate a shoplifting complaint. Store personnel had allegedly caught Higinbotham trying to steal a pair of tennis shoes, according to SPD Capt. Shannon Smith, and had taken him in the store’s security area.
“Merchants have the authority to detain a person they have caught shoplifting,” said Smith.
When Officer Wilson attempted to place Higinbotham under arrest, the suspect allegedly resisted and fought with officers, threatened officers, and attempted to disarm the officer.
At one time during the altercation, Higinbotham threatened that his girlfriend was with him and that she was armed with a gun and he could command her to shoot the officers, according to SPD.
However, when officers checked the girlfriend, Melissa Lyles, 38, of Somerset, she wasn’t armed, but did have several pills in her possession, according to Smith.
Lyles was cited for possession of a controlled substance, having a prescription controlled substance not in a proper container, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Higinbotham was arrested and charged with theft by unlawful taking, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, third-degree assault, disarming a police officer, third-degree terroristic threatening, promoting contraband, having a prescription controlled substance not in a proper container, and third-degree possession of controlled substance. He was lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center. The case will be presented to Pulaski Grand Jury.
Smith said that Wilson suffered some bruising and a scrape to him arm, but there were no significant injuries.
“It just proves it doesn’t matter how serious or apparently routine calls are that officers face, they can turn out to be rather serious regardless of what they start out being,” said Smith. “The officer used the force necessary to accomplish the arrest.”
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the arrest.