ASOTIN — A Clarkston Walmart employee who wound up being subdued with a stun gun and arrested after refusing to provide identification to police during an investigation made his first municipal court appearance Tuesday.
Mark A. Domino, 52, was arrested June 25 in the Walmart parking lot after Clarkston police were called about a suspected vehicle prowler who matched the defendant’s description. Domino allegedly refused to comply with orders during questioning and now faces charges of resisting arrest and obstructing a law enforcement officer.
Domino, who has a college education, told the court he plans to represent himself and seek a change of venue as the case moves forward. His next court appearance is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday before Judge Tina Kernan at Asotin County District Court. Prosecutor Todd Richardson, who is handling the case on behalf of the city of Clarkston, has offered a possible resolution that could end with the charges being dismissed.
In a video of the arrest that was widely shared on social media, Domino, who is black, can be heard repeatedly asking why he was being detained, saying he knows his rights. Police said a stun gun was eventually used to take him into custody because he wouldn’t cooperate with their orders, pulled away and ignored numerous commands to stop, according to court documents.
Domino arrived at the courthouse Tuesday afternoon, wearing a suit and riding his white motorcycle. Before walking inside, he told the Tribune the Walmart incident was the first time he’s been hit with a Taser and it was a rough experience.
“It’s problematic when you did nothing wrong and you’re just going about your daily business and you end up with charges and being tased,” Domino said. “As long as you are not being violent, there’s no reason to do that. I didn’t do anything. I did not lash out, I did not kick.”
Richardson filed two charges against Domino, based on the police reports. Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Obstructing a law enforcement officer is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
“The law provides for police to investigate reports of crimes, and that’s how this started, with police properly investigating the report of a potential crime,” Richardson told the Tribune. “I won’t comment on the facts of this case, but I am confident, if required, I could secure a conviction on these facts. The fact I can secure a conviction doesn’t mean this case needs one, which is why I made an offer and am seeking a win-win resolution.”
After meeting with Richardson, Domino told the Tribune he was offered a “plea-backed deferred prosecution.”
The deal would require him to give a guilty plea that is held by the prosecutor, pending successful completion of the agreement. If the defendant stays out of trouble for a stipulated length of time, the charges would be dismissed.
“That sets me up to be on pins and needles,” Domino said. “I’m already on pins and needles because I didn’t do anything to get here in the first place.”
Domino believes his arrest is “one of the fruits from a poisonous tree.” A woman dialed 911 after seeing a black man open the doors of one car in the parking lot, he said, and Whitcom Regional Dispatch Center informed police a man matching his description had opened the doors of three separate cars.
According to Domino, his wife, who also works at Walmart, had driven his car to work that day, and he opened the doors of his own car before walking to his motorcycle to drive home.
“Everyone goes in and out of cars all day at Walmart,” he said. “Why was she watching me? The vehicle prowl report was a malicious statement. The caller was thinking negative from the get-go, and dispatch compounded it by giving more misinformation.”
The aftermath was more than a mere “miscommunication” with police, Domino said. In his interpretation of the law, he is not required to hand over his identification to law enforcement officers while on foot, and that’s why he objected to the initial request from Clarkston police.
“I’m a 52-year-old black man,” Domino said. “It’s not the first time I’ve been approached. I know my rights. If this happened to you, how would you feel?”
Domino, who has lived in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley for two years, said his first interaction with local authorities was much more positive.
On a “blazing hot day” last summer, Domino was having problems with his motorcycle’s battery and pushing the bike north from Highland Avenue along 13th Street toward Mac’s Cycle. He said an officer on patrol stopped and asked him if he was OK.
A half-hour later, the same officer returned and asked him if he was sure he was all right in the searing heat. On the third visit, the officer drove Domino to Mac’s Cycle to borrow a jumper cable.
“That guy was awesome,” Domino said. “That made me feel good about being here. I wish I had his name. I do remember the kindness.”
After Tuesday’s arraignment, Richardson said he enjoyed meeting Domino and found him to be “pleasant and likeable,” and hopes he accepts the conditions of his offer.
In addition, the attorney gave high praise to the city’s police force.
“I will put the Clarkston police up against any law enforcement agency in America in regard to their professionalism and the respect they show people,” Richardson told the Tribune. “I’m proud to work with these gentlemen and think they do a very hard job very well.”
Sandaine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.