Seattle's famously stubborn #ManInTree charged with mischief, assault

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 28, 2016 8:43 PM

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A man who refused for 25 hours to climb down from the canopy of a giant sequoia in downtown Seattle was charged on Monday with malicious mischief and assault over his treetop standoff, which drew national headlines and created a sensation on social media.

Prosecutors also requested a court order to keep Cody Lee Miller, 28, from going near the 80-foot-tall (24-meter) tree again, according to charging documents filed in King County on Monday.

Miller was arrested last week after a day-long confrontation with authorities who tried to cajole him down from the tree, located on public property in downtown Seattle, police said.

As the encounter played out on live television, police closed an area at the base of the tree to protect the public from the possibility of falling objects, including the man himself, who became a top trending topic on Twitter as "#ManInTree."

Holding authorities at bay, Miller threw pine cones and branches at firefighters, police and pedestrians, according to prosecutors, and drew a crowd of onlookers whose reactions ranged from awe to annoyance.

"This caused an incalculable waste of time and services," King County prosecutor Stephen Herschkowitz wrote in the charging documents.

Miller was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and malicious mischief for allegedly causing roughly $7,800 in damage to the tree, which the city planted more than 40 years ago, the documents said.

Giant sequoias, which rank as the world's largest trees, normally can be expected to survive 200 to 300 years in an urban setting.

It was not clear whether Miller had obtained an attorney. His motivation in scaling the tree has not been explained.

A police statement during the standoff last Wednesday said Miller appeared to have been going through a personal crisis.

Miller is due to be arraigned on April 11, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Steve Gorman and Leslie Adler)