Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Corrections officer charged in road rage incident


A rookie Pierce County corrections officer has been charged with second-degree assault for pointing his gun at another car during a road rage incident in Burien, according to court documents.

Yury Nijnik, 28, is set for arraignment Feb. 10 at the Regional Justice Center in Kent. He was released from jail last week on $5,000 bail, although a judge prohibited him from carrying a gun while the case is pending.

Nijnik was arrested Jan. 25 after an incident that began when he allegedly cut off another car with two adults and their 12-year-old niece on First Avenue South near South 160th Street. The second driver, Shean Corvari, honked and Nijnik made a derogatory hand gesture, court documents say.

As Corvari drove on, he noticed Nijnik driving recklessly and swerving between lanes. Corvari managed to get ahead of him in traffic and tried to ignore him until Nijnik pulled alongside him and pointed a gun, court documents say.

Corvari turned left on South 144th Street to get away, but Nijnik cut across two lanes and pulled in front of him, slamming his brakes. Nijnik then got out of his car and pressed his Pierce County corrections ID card against Corvari's window with his gun tucked into his waistband, court documents say.

"(Corvari) stated that he felt very threatened and was in fear that Nijnik was going to shoot him or his wife," court documents say.

Nijnik was hired as a corrections officer six months ago and still is in his one-year probationary phase. He had no arrest authority and was carrying his personal weapon, Pierce County Sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer said.

He was placed on paid administrative leave while the Pierce County Sheriff's Office conducts an internal investigation, Troyer said.

"He's on probation, so it doesn't look very good for him," he said.

After the initial confrontation, Corvari had rolled back and bumped into Nijnik's vehicle when a traffic light turned green, court documents say. Nijnik claimed his car had been rammed several times, which caused him to feel threatened, but officers found no visible damage, court documents say.

"The car ... appeared to be in pristine condition," court documents say.

Nijnik denied that he brandished his weapon. When he called 911, he told the dispatcher that the other car's occupants "may" have seen his gun, although he didn't understand how. He said he took his gun out, but placed it in his glove box "in case he got into a fight," court documents say.

He said he then holstered the gun when police arrived, court documents say.

Corvari also has a concealed pistol license, but never drew his weapon. His wife and Nijnik both called 911 and King County sheriff's deputies responded, according to court documents and police.

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