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Robert Bales' 2002 assault charge stemed from casino incident

A police report released today shows that the 2002 assault charge against a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier suspected in the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians occurred at a Tacoma casino while he was intoxicated.

According to Law Enforcement Support Agency documents:

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales threatened another customer at the Silver Dollar Casino July 14, 2002, and the customer reported the incident to security.

Two security guards told Bales to leave the casino and watched as he got in a cab. Bales then got out of the cab and, ignoring orders to get back inside the cab and leave, picked up a trash can lid and rushed the security guards.

Bales punched one of the guards in the chest before both guards tackled him and held him on the ground until officers arrived at the casino, 8402 S. Hosmer St.

The officer who was punched, Joe Hanna, pressed charges. Today, he said he does not remember the incident.

“I don’t remember, not at all. It was not an unusual experience for us to deal with these sort of people,” Hanna said.

“It was my job 10 years ago – it is not now,” said Hanna, who was in the Air Force before his security guard job and now works in child support enforcement for the state Department of Social and Health Services. “I don’t remember so there’s not much I can say about it.”

Hanna said he didn’t want to comment on the Afghanistan killings attributed to Bales.

Bales received a deferred sentence for a misdemeanor criminal assault charge in Tacoma Municipal Court. The charge was later dismissed after Bales completed an anger management assessment, had no other law violations in six months and paid a $300 fine, court records show.

Staff writer Jeremy Pawloski contributed to this report.

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