A judge sentenced a longtime criminal to five years in prison Monday in a case involving a mentally ill man who decried a lack of community support and a police officer whose family made her question her profession after the suspect assaulted her during his arrest earlier this year.
David J. Brault, 41, said he was fine when he lived with his mother. But he also said he has lived on the streets of Spokane.
“My problems now are with mental health. I have been trying to get treated without much luck,” Brault told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. “There is just no resources, no help, no money. I’m just a different person when I’m on my meds.”
That explanation came as little comfort to Spokane Police Officer Davida Zinkgraf, who was on patrol June 3 near the intersection of Wellesley Avenue and Market Street when she spotted Brault.
Brault, who weighs an estimated 280 pounds, fit the description of a felony theft suspect. When Zinkgraf – 5-foot-1 and 140 pounds – approached Brault, he fled.
“When (Officer) Zinkgraf caught up with Brault, he punched the officer two times in the head with a closed fist, knocking her to the ground,” according to court records. “While on the ground, Brault continued to assault the officer. Due to the nature of the assault, (Officer) Zinkgraf feared the defendant would kill her.”
The 12-year veteran called for backup, and three residents came to her aid. With the extra help and a shot from her Taser, the group was able to detain Brault, whose extensive criminal career began in 1985.
“I do understand mental health issues,” Zinkgraf said in court. “But it is my belief that his mental health state had nothing to do with that day.”
Later in the hearing, Brault acknowledged previously making this statement in jail: “What do I have to do, hit one of you guys to let you know I need help?”
Zinkgraf said her pain went beyond the assault.
“I want him to realize his actions that day not only affected me, but my family,” she said.
The veteran officer faced a family who wanted her to quit her career, and she briefly considered it, she said.
“But I’m not going to give that to him,” she said, referring to Brault.
Defense attorney Matt Campbell, who represented Brault, said his client has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and other mental problems that have contributed to a criminal history that Judge Moreno described as “horrendous.” It includes convictions for a dozen theft cases, six assaults and one second-degree robbery, according to court testimony.
“I was not on my … mental health medication,” Brault told the judge. “I’m very remorseful for what I did. I just hope you take that into consideration.”
Moreno followed deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Patrick Johnson’s request for the 60-month sentence, which was the maximum for third-degree assault.
“As we sit in the courtroom, we often forget that officers put their lives on the line,” Moreno said. “This particular officer didn’t deserve it.”
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.