A Pierce County deputy prosecutor says he was attacked and beaten by a group of youths after he asked them to stop picking mushrooms in a park.
Doug Hill, who heads the prosecutor’s drug unit, said Thursday he still feels twinges of pain from Sunday’s attack, though he suffered no permanent physical damage.
“In a nutshell, I got the hell beat out of me,” Hill said. “It hurt to breathe. I couldn’t even sleep for three nights.”
The 42-year-old Hill, a triathlete, was running past China Lake in Fircrest about 4:30 p.m. Sunday when he saw several young men in the park, picking mind-altering mushrooms.
“I was concerned that what they were doing was illegal,” Hill said. “I was afraid that they or somebody else might get sick or die from eating ‘magic mushrooms.’
“I yelled out at them, ‘Hey, stop picking those mushrooms before someone calls the police.”’
He and the group exchanged words.
“When it looked like they were going to hit me, I said, ‘I’m a prosecutor, and people go to jail for what you’re doing.’ That only seemed to enrage them more.”
The 150-pound prosecutor said the young men flailed at him with their fists while he took a few swings in their direction.
The group withdrew and Hill ran to a home and asked the homeowner to call 911.
The group got into two cars and followed him. They surrounded him again, knocked him to the ground and began kicking and hitting him in the ribs and head.
The homeowner tried to help Hill, but was himself attacked. One youth hit Hill’s rescuer in the head with a large rock, the prosecutor said.
Another neighbor emerged from his home and a motorist stopped to help.
“By then, the little cowards decided the odds weren’t with them and they took off,” Hill said.
He and the neighbors copied down the license numbers of the group’s two cars, and police located the 10 youths.
Deputy prosecutor Ed Murphy said Thursday he has asked detectives for more investigation before deciding what charges, if any, to bring against the teens.
Prosecutor John Ladenburg said the fact the youths seemed to redouble their efforts to hurt Hill when he identified himself as a prosecutor could mean more serious charges against them.