West Seattle Crime Watch: ’11-time felon’ charged with stolen-car possession, break-in, hit-run, but judge reduces bail

Three charges are now filed against the man arrested last Friday night after law enforcers in the air and on the ground tracked a stolen SUV to a house near The Junction. 32-year-old Nicholas Broughton is described in court documents as an “11-time convicted felon.” He is charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, hit and run, and first-degree criminal trespass. He remains in jail tonight, but Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer set bail at $25,000, prosecutors say, down from the $100,000 set after his arrest. (At right: State Department of Corrections file photo of Broughton, added 2/7/14)

The police report in the documents includes more information on last Friday night’s events:

The owners of the red 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe that police say Broughton crashed through a fence reported it stolen around 8 pm Friday while they were eating dinner at a restaurant in the Pierce County town of University Place.

Around quarter past nine, the signal from the LoJack device in the Tahoe led police to a garage in the 4800 block of 47th SW. The case report says an investigating officer “knew based on his prior experience that the same garage had been used in other police calls to include incidents that involved stolen vehicles, narcotics, and firearms.” The SUV was starting to leave the area when police arrived on the ground and the Guardian One helicopter arrived overhead.

The report goes on to describe what we reported before, including what is shown in this video from Guardian One:

The report summarizes that Broughton “continued to elude as he ran and hid in three different yards before he eventually broke out a basement door window then unlawfully entered the residence …”

The report says he “had lived in the house after being released from prison in 2013. He left the house two months ago. The locks had been changed and (he) was told he wasn’t welcome back at the house.”

He is reported to have answered “I don’t know” in response to almost everything police asked. Regarding the Tahoe, police impounded it and wrote in the report:

The front driver and passenger seats had been taken out (stripped) and the vehicle had extensive damage to it. Due to the condition of the vehicle, it would be highly unlikely for any occupant to claim lack of knowledge that the car had been stolen. Officers also located and photographed the stripped seats from the stolen car, which were located in the garage at (the address where he was arrested).

The case report also mentions the gunshot neighbors heard that night: “At some point during the foot pursuit of the suspect, there was an officer-involved accidental discharge of a firearm.” A separate report number is listed.

Though prosecutors asked that his bail be kept at $100,000 because they feel Broughton is “unlikely to appear in response to a summons,” Judge Shaffer reduced it to $25,000, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Documents say he has been booked into jail 22 times since 2001, including 34 warrants. He is scheduled to return to court in two weeks for arraignment on these charges.

36 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: '11-time felon' charged with stolen-car possession, break-in, hit-run, but judge reduces bail"

  • Eric1 February 5, 2014 (11:03 pm)

    Eleven strikes and you are out? Lol.
    If only were a laughing matter.

  • ACG February 5, 2014 (11:11 pm)

    great, just great….

  • pupsarebest February 5, 2014 (11:56 pm)

    Yes, he definitely seems like the type of fine, honest, upstanding, law-abiding young man who undoubtedly will honor his legal and civic obligations to appear promptly in court, fresh and scrubbed, on the appointed day.

  • Eric February 6, 2014 (4:51 am)

    Why? Why when the prosecutors asked that the bail remain the same, the judge still reduced the bail not by a 1/4, or a 1/2, but by 3/4!!

    Why when this guy is a an 11 time convicted felon did this judge reduce his bail? Why when he is charged with 3 felonies now did this judge reduce his bail? This is ridiculous.

    And the police knew of this garage because of past dealings with stolen vehicles, narcotics, and firearms? No wonder neighbors expressed their concerns in the last blog. I feel bad for neighbors trying to do right, only to have this sore in their neighborhood. Absolutely unacceptable. There’s a process in which neighbors can file a petition to have the property taken away from the owners due to habitual crime within the property. It might not be a bad idea to look into that.

  • Rick February 6, 2014 (5:26 am)

    Next step in this process will be to give him a key to the city. Or at least to your house so the door doesn’t get damaged.

  • Gene February 6, 2014 (5:57 am)

    Judge Catherine Shaffer- remember her name if she runs for reelection– vote accordingly.

  • Brenda February 6, 2014 (6:33 am)


  • ghar72 February 6, 2014 (7:40 am)

    Did the judge give a reason for reducing the bail so dramatically?

  • miws February 6, 2014 (7:54 am)

    I’m really trying to get away from the knee-jerk reaction of when a suspect is released, or bail reduced, that it’s all on the Judge, since they are often only working within the limits the laws allow. But this one, really looks like it is all on the Judge, presuming the Prosecutor was not asking for more bail than would be allowed.



    • WSB February 6, 2014 (8:14 am)

      Unfortunately, documents generally don’t get into the nuances of ‘why.’ I’m checking back with prosecutors though because the jail register listing does not match what they told me. Looks like a possible input error but can’t be sure.

      • WSB February 6, 2014 (10:52 am)

        Update: Ian Goodhew from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office confirmed on our followup this morning that the bail was indeed reduced by the judge to $25,000. Since it happened in conjunction with prosecutors filing charges, it was her decision, rather than a ruling on any request by the defense.

  • rico February 6, 2014 (8:05 am)

    All signs point to this judge as a public safety hindrance. Please e-mail her with your feelings about the impact of her decisions on us, us being those who pay her salary.

    Here is her email shaffer.court@kingcounty.gov

    And why not copy her boss Mariane Spearman here spearman.court@kingcounty.gov

  • DTK February 6, 2014 (8:41 am)

    Maybe the Judge wanted to make sure he had enough money left over to rent a room in one of our new apodments.

  • Et tu Brute? February 6, 2014 (8:45 am)

    So now that even the police acknowledge that this is a problem house with extensive criminal history, are the defenders from before going to come back and lecture the neighbors again?

  • jess February 6, 2014 (12:21 pm)

    The next time we have a change, we need to vote Catherine Shaffer out of office.

    Her bail reduction for this career criminal is completely unacceptable.

  • jess February 6, 2014 (12:22 pm)

    Typo – “The next time we have a chance…”

  • old timer February 6, 2014 (12:35 pm)

    We are getting quite a list of these judges.
    Maybe WSB could give us a tab where we could list them along with the cases that aroused our ire so the information would be easily available at election time?

    • WSB February 6, 2014 (12:46 pm)

      If you see somebody on the ballot – search the site for their surname. And when elections come around, we’ll have to do a better job of recapping histories (for politicians, too) … will check this spring re: what’s on the ballot this summer/fall …

  • carole February 6, 2014 (1:38 pm)

    Next round of judicial elections should be 2016 election cycle. BUT, IIRC, if no one registers to run against a sitting judge that judge’s name will not be on the ballot.

  • West Seattle Resident February 6, 2014 (1:59 pm)

    I sat on the jury for a 4 week trial that was presided over by Judge Catherine Shaffer (same judge as in this case). We convicted the murderer (Seattle Roll Bakery). Judge Shaffer gave the defendant the max, 50 years. While it’s easy to jump to conclusions, we should learn ALL of the facts before we go jumping on every judge.

  • Eric February 6, 2014 (3:40 pm)

    Well WSR,

    If you have any suggestions on what these facts might be, I’m curious to hear as why a judge would reduce bail by 3/4% against the prosecutors recommendation to someone that not only has been convicted of a felony 11 times, been to 22 jail times since 2001 with 34 WARRANTS, but is now charged with 3 more felonies?

    The only thing I can come up with off the top of my head is that this is some kind of financial game. Reduce the bail amount to something more managable for the person to be able to raise up the money for, so that the city doesn’t have to pay for jail time to keep him locked up. Then if the person doesn’t show up for their court date, the city gets to keep the money and simply issues yet another warrant for his arrest in which he’ll either eventually be apprehended or move to another place and become another’s problem.

  • CandrewB February 6, 2014 (3:41 pm)

    Usually I am one to go off half-cocked on judges and prosecutors, but I sat on one of her juries as well. She seemed pretty no-nonsense.

  • Joe February 6, 2014 (6:00 pm)

    It’s only a matter of time before this guy kills someone during one of his crime sprees. Will it be someone you know? A family member? You?

  • Eastside resident February 6, 2014 (8:52 pm)

    Try this one on for size… a convicted felon is arrested for 2 counts of indecent liberty’s with a minor and 2 counts of possession of a stolen gun. His bail is set at $250.000. He then is given work release by a judge before he has even gone to trial. He stays in the work release program for over a month before he finds a job. Why bother setting such a high bail if they are going to let him out everyday. This man lived across the street from me and the girl he molested is autistic. How do you feel knowing that he is out on the streets of your city.

  • Vanpooler February 8, 2014 (1:47 am)

    Funny, people say “vote out” this judge. But incidentally, voting for judges is a really bad way to run a judicial branch. But, it’s what we do in Washington. I bet if we did a study, we’d find somewhere in the range of 5% of registered voters are capable of electing judges intelligently — meaning, knowing their qualifications and having some sense of what qualities would be good for a judge to have. Most smarter states have judicial appointments after careful evaluation by the bar, panels of appointed citizens, and others specifically charged with vetting the best judges. Washington needs to change this. Oh and as to this judge’s bail decision, probably wasn’t that crazy. Bail cannot be used to incarcerate, just to ensure appearance.

  • Matt S. February 8, 2014 (9:13 am)

    Maybe it’s time for me to try my hand at freelance crime. Here I thought the risks would be too severe, but it looks like web development might be a riskier business after all.

    What more must one do to prove they’re not adding any value to society?

  • Laura February 8, 2014 (2:18 pm)

    Wow! An 11 time felon. What happened to the 3 strikes and YOU ARE out rule or maybe that only applies to greater crimes. It’s pretty obvious the guy is winning. How else can you rack up 11 felonies. What a joke! Blah, blah, blah…….

  • Community Member February 8, 2014 (7:54 pm)

    “Officers also located and photographed the stripped seats from the stolen car, which were located in the garage at (the address where he was arrested).”
    That part is REALLY interesting. He isn’t welcome at the house, etc, don’t blame the residents, they have nothing to do with him, etc, – but the property just happens to be where he strips out the stolen car?
    The size of the bail is to make it lucrative enough for the bail recovery agent to capture and bring in a fugitive. Bail isn’t supposed to keep the accused behind bars, it is set at a level that the accused can meet by contracting with a bondsman. In fact, our state constitution requires that.

  • anonyme February 9, 2014 (6:51 am)

    Can we kick Shaffer out now? This is the third time in recent weeks that she’s drastically reduced bail for a career criminal. BTW, anyone see Alan Polevia lately? Isn’t it time for him to be arrested and let out again?

  • joel February 9, 2014 (10:54 am)

    why do people blame the police for crime? it’s the courts that are the problem….as shown in this story. if you are a cop why risk your life to arrest this person when it’s just a game to the criminal and to our courts?…..11 Past felonies….and now this one.

    dude answered ‘ i don’t know to nearly every question’….I’d taze him a few times and see how quickly his answers and poor attitude change.

  • hisbird February 9, 2014 (11:51 am)

    Saying I don’t know to every question is smart if you want to give your lawyer any chance at defending you. Joel, the right to remain silent – ever heard of it? And is it really so wrong that his bail is reduced, considering his charges were as well? (vehicle theft and burglary are very serious charges VS. Possession of a stolen vehicle. Of course bail will be reduced dramatically when the charges are too – clearly they did not have enough probable cause to charge him with the original charges)… But regardless of guilt, given his priors – He is going to be convicted for this, shouldn’t he be allowed to post bail, and get his affairs in order, and prepare for his trial and inevitable sentence without the restraints of jail? Wouldn’t you want that right? No one but the people involved know why the events unfolded the way that they did, and it’s easy for all of us to be so opinionated without all the facts, or clear understanding of the limits of our judicial system. And that’s why Vanpoolers’ comment is the most poignant in this thread – (“I bet if we did a study, we’d find somewhere in the range of 5% of registered voters are capable of electing judges intelligently — meaning, knowing their qualifications and having some sense of what qualities would be good for a judge to have”) – but that’s clear in the majority of these comments where the author feels that taking away rights and due process is the solution – such hypocrites.

  • Community Member February 9, 2014 (4:43 pm)

    Why do so many posters believe that a judge’s job is to automatically go along with the prosecutor’s request? Why have judges at all?
    If you are so sure that the higher bail was appropriate, why not be angry at the prosecutor for having failed to present the high bail request effectively to the judge?
    Our state constitution mandates that he be allowed out on bail, and that the bail cannot be “excessive” – that means he is actually supposed to be able to meet bail. So the bail amount isn’t about how many prior felonies he has, it’s about what financial resources he has available to post bail with.

  • joel February 9, 2014 (5:46 pm)

    hisbird…..and the people following the law and living life like a normal person also have rights to not have crimes committed against them. having this person locked up makes the streets safer. this guy has had plenty of rights and chances and he’s chosen another path in life…time to put him away for a long time. if he’s locked up he’ll have plenty of time to prepare himself for court and not be distracted when he’s stealing cars, breaking into houses and being in hi speed chases putting others lives at risk.

  • Lynn February 13, 2014 (5:31 am)

    His mother must be so proud!

  • Aprylla February 16, 2014 (4:40 pm)

    What about the officer who’s gun went off accidentally in the pursute?

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