A mentally ill man accused of stabbing a Spokane police officer has spent time in jails across the nation, authorities said.
Rocklin G. Lerwick has felony convictions from California to North Dakota for crimes including robbery and weapons violations, corrections officers said.
The 53-year-old transient is in the Spokane County Jail now, charged with first-degree assault.
Detectives say Lerwick stabbed Officer Christopher Lewis twice with a hunting knife Monday at a West Central neighborhood group home for the mentally ill.
The 28-year-old Lewis underwent surgery for wounds to his left arm and shoulder, but was expected to be released Tuesday afternoon.
Lewis joined the Spokane Police Department in April 1995. Patrol Capt. Bruce Roberts said the patrolman worked as a state trooper before joining the city force.
He was sent to Summit Manor on West Boone about 7 p.m. Monday to help mental health worker Holly Ferguson take Lerwick to Sacred Heart Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation, according to court documents.
Summit Manor employees told investigators Lerwick, who is diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder and paranoia, punched several cars and threatened an employee earlier in the day.
A worker at the home said Tuesday that Lerwick has not been taking his medication recently. He checked into the facility for a few days last week but wasn’t supposed to be at the home Monday night, the employee said.
Corrections officials said Lerwick has been in the Spokane area for about a month.
Lerwick walked away when Lewis and Ferguson tried to serve him with civil commitment papers, detectives said. He later told investigators he was afraid to go to a psychiatric ward.
Lewis then grabbed him and the two began to struggle, Detective Donald Giese wrote in an affidavit.
At one point, Lerwick pulled out a knife and began stabbing Lewis, witnesses told police.
The officer stepped back and drew his gun, and Lerwick ran into another room, according to the affidavit.
Lewis called for help on his radio, then pursued Lerwick into the other room and ordered him to lie down, the affidavit states. Lerwick complied, and responding officers arrested him a few minutes later.
Lerwick later told Giese the knife, which he keeps in his pants pocket, “ended up” in his hands during his struggle with Lewis.
“Lerwick made a forward thrusting motion with his hands and stated, ‘the knife did this,”’ Giese wrote in his affidavit.
Lerwick mumbled unintelligibly during his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
District Court Commissioner Vance Peterson set bail at $250,000 and ordered Lerwick to undergo a mental health evaluation.