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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley deputies arrest man after struggle for firearm

Spokane Valley sheriff’s deputies arrested a man after he allegedly disobeyed commands and attempted to reach for a deputy’s handgun during a traffic stop Tuesday, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said.

Spokane Valley Deputy Justin Korpi pulled over the occupants of a 2018 Toyota Tundra with no visible license plates that he suspected was a stolen vehicle from Kootenai County at about 1:20 a.m. near Broadway Avenue and Sullivan Street, the sheriff’s office said in a news release on Wednesday.

The driver of the vehicle, a woman, and the passenger, identified as 51-year-old Mark R. Yeager, were initially cooperative with Korpi and other deputies who arrived on scene. However, Yeager refused to comply with commands after Korpi spotted a .45-caliber handgun tucked into the waistband of Yeager’s pants, the sheriff’s office said.

Korpi commanded Yeager to keep his hands visible, but Yeager instead lowered his hands toward the handgun, the sheriff’s office said. Korpi tried to continue controlling Yeager’s arm while also pointing his own handgun at the man, advising that he would shoot Yeager if he touched the handgun, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies Dylan Werts and Samuel Turner assisted in trying to control the man’s arms as Korpi attempted disarm the man, the sheriff’s office said. Yeager allegedly challenged the deputies to shoot him.

Once disarmed by Korpi, Yeager attempted to reach for one of the deputies handguns, but was unsuccessful, the sheriff’s office said. Yeager continued to resist arrest but was ultimately subdued and handcuffed.

The sheriff’s office said Yeager later apologized for resisting arrest and for challenging the deputies to shoot him.

Deputies located about 66 grams of suspected meth, about 52 grams of heroin, about 13 grams of a white powdery substance (possibly fentanyl) and $800 in a fanny pack Yeager was wearing, the sheriff’s office said. The suspected drugs and .45-caliber handgun were booked into evidence. Deputies recovered an additional handgun, as well as property they believe was stolen inside of the vehicle.

Yeager was arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, attempt to disarm law enforcement, three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and obstructing. His bond was set at $50,000.

According the sheriff’s office, Yeager is a 20-time convicted felon and prohibited from legally possessing firearms.

The woman was released without any charges, the sheriff’s office said.

The incident remains under investigation, and additional charges are possible.