Fact Check: Good Samaritan Facing Charges For Saving Child From Burning Car

A Washington State Patrol trooper is accused of telling a woman that she could be criminally charged for taking a fire extinguisher.

A Washington State Patrol trooper is accused of telling a woman that she could be criminally charged for taking a fire extinguisher.

Tequila Isaacson Will Never Be Charged For Taking A Fire Extinguisher

Snoqualmie Pass, WA – A Washington State Patrol Trooper’s statement that a good Samaritan could be charged after she worked to save a child from a burning car has news agencies reporting that she could be charged for the act.

However, the facts of the case, as reported, indicate that she would never be charged, and the Washington State Patrol isn’t pursuing the case.

The incident happened on Monday while Tequila Isaacson was driving home to Idaho from Washington, going over Snoqualmie Pass.

She pulled into a rest stop and a pickup pulling another vehicle drove in behind her. That truck then caught fire.

As the occupants of the vehicle worked to get a young boy out of the truck, Isaacson saw a fire extinguisher through a locked glass door at the rest stop’s coffee stand.

“I ran back around from where the glass door was and I pulled a post out of the bed of my truck and hit the door to get to the fire extinguisher,” Isaacson told KOMO News.

Isaacson used the fire extinguisher to put the fire out.

A Washington State Patrol trooper arrived and Isaacson says that he told her that she could be charged with burglary.

“He was telling me that using a fire extinguisher that doesn’t belong to me is theft and you’re not allowed to steal it, no matter how good your intentions,” she said.

No charges have been filed against Isaacson, nor will they be, because she didn’t commit a burglary.

There’s no need to question if Isaacson’s version of the story is correct. The Washington State Patrol is a highway patrol agency and it’s common for most troopers to go their entire career without handling a burglary investigation. Enforcement of crimes besides traffic or drug crimes is uncommon in WSP outside of specialized units.

I’m speculating here but I’d say that it’s likely that, through no fault of his own, this trooper was likely completely unfamiliar with criminal law surrounding burglaries.

First, the act of smashing the door could be the crime of malicious mischief, AKA vandalism. However, the state law requires that the actor have malicious intent, which Isaacson did not. Therefore, we can conclude that she did not commit the crime of malicious mischief.

Second, there’s the “theft” of the fire extinguisher. A theft would require that Isaacson had wrongfully obtained the fire extinguisher intent to deprive the owner of the fire extinguisher.

It would be tough to argue both the intent to deprive and “wrongfully obtained” as she obtained state’s fire extinguisher with the intent of putting out a fire (isn’t that what it’s there for?) and she then presumably returned it. Therefore, we can conclude that this was not a theft.

Burglary would have required that Isaacson enter the building unlawfully with intent to commit a crime. Since we determined that the taking of the fire extinguisher wasn’t a crime, Issacson didn’t have intent to commit a crime, and couldn’t be charged with burglary.

In the end, Isaacson did commit a crime of trespassing by unlawfully entering the building.

In order to be criminally charged for trespassing, the Washington State Patrol would need to investigate it as a criminal case and then forward the case to the prosecutor. A prosecutor would also likely require a statement from the Department of Transportation that Isaacson wasn’t authorized to enter the building. Then the prosecutor would have to believe that they could convince a jury to convict her, and decide that was something they actually wanted to pursue.

Conclusion: Isaacson will never be criminally charged. And according to KOMO news, the Washington State Patrol “will be reviewing the way this case was handled with the trooper, adding they are grateful for Isaacson’s courageous effort to help save the child.”

  • Tom Thompson

    I can only conclude that any LEO who didn’t know the elements of a crime had woefully inadequate training or was asleep when that most basic portion was taught. It is appalling that the notion of a crime could have ever entered the trooper’s mind.

    • gunslinger97

      Exactly. Burglary=entering with the intent to commit grand theft, petty theft or any felony. She will not be charged.

  • matthew marciano

    Former LEO here. I think she should be given a medal!! She saved a child’s life and most likely serious injuries. That trooper needs to go back to BLET, period. Now I’m all for standing up for my brothers and sisters in blue but that is not something he should’ve not said. A lady named Tequila (as odd as that may be) can be my child’s hero any day when I have one sometime. Good job woman!!!!

  • I’ve phl

    Retired Trooper and I agree with most this
    trooper needs to go back through some training lol I would have given this lady a hug and told her that she did a great job of saving this child’s life a deserved a metal

    • Oaf Dawg

      That IS the way he was trained. Today’s troopers are not the same as those who we worked with in the past.

  • Nena Miller

    It’s a shame he said anything along those lines at all; sounds like she performed a very heroic act.

  • jack zeller

    No crime was committed. Re: Competing harms law…

  • Doug Packer

    Next thing you know, someone will “steal” an AED to save a heart attack victim! What is the world coming to? Do they think that all those fire extinguishers are for actually putting out fires? NO! They are there because the government says they have to be there! So basically you are breaking federal law to remove the fire extinguisher from the cute little box it’s in.
    (Sarcasm, for the sarcasm challenged out there)

  • Joseph M. Butler

    No you didn’t.

  • Bobdole10

    Common sense and common decency seems to be woefully lacking with certain cops. What the heck was this cop thinking? Dude needs some training and maybe a psych test. This is a red flag that needs to be addressed now.

    • gonzales27

      No problem -heis probably a Liberal

  • ThatOldCop

    This is one of many reasons that the public we serve doesn’t always support us. Overzealous enforcement of the law or threatening to do so is one reason our citizens think some of us are heartless robots who only want to use the law to nit pick citizens. Most laws are written broadly by our legislatures so that officers and prosecutors can find and use a grey area for situations such as this. Overzealous enforcement of our laws be young law enforcement officers does not make it any easier on the rest of us.
    I believe that our Police Academy’s should stop teaching the letter of the law and should instead teach the spirit of the law. This case could be used as one of many teachable moments for our fine young officers in the academy or in the field.

  • dan

    Like I have said many times more and better training is in order, not just for firearms.

  • Chaplain C

    Personally, I doubt the Washington Patrolman said anything at all! If a Trooper told me something along those lines, I would have his name and badge number and I would call him/her by name! I think this is just another person trying to add to an already hostile situation between police and the general population.

  • richard scalzo

    As there was no effort in the least to charge her, the media ran with this in their usual manner.

  • Oaf Dawg

    State troopers/highway patrol are branwashed in the academy today to remove any free thinking that they may have. They are indoctrinated to follow the letter of the law…period! Any deviation from this results in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Don’t blame the trooper, he was just following his training.

    • Kar

      You’d need to have a pretty weak mind in order to be brainwashed so badly, that it removes your capacity for human empathy – which is something (if you’re equipped with it to begin with) that is ingrained in us, at our the very core of our beings.

  • KEYSTONELIGHT

    I would change my name, quit my job and move to another State if I told a Lady that just saved a child’s life that she could be arrested for burglary by breaking the glass to retrieve a fire extinguisher and put out a fire……..Are there Police Officers out there really that dumb……Good Grief Charlie Brown……!

  • Gray

    She could have been charged with burglary, as stupid as it would be to do so. Of course she would just plead justifiable, and win.

  • KS Freeman

    “…the Washington State Patrol “will be reviewing the way this case was handled with the trooper, adding they are grateful for Isaacson’s courageous effort to help save the child.””

    A good start by the Washington State Patrol! An heartfelt apology from the trooper would defuse the situation entirely. We can’t constantly look over our shoulders trying to avoid being sued. Sometimes you just need to do the right thing.

    Love this site!