Fanny-Pack Fury

Who knew a waist-affixed man-purse could bring people to blows?

Though it went out of style decades ago, the main advantage of the fanny pack is that the wearer can use it to carry any number of compact personal items, leaving his or her hands free for other things—like fighting federal security guards.

On March 22, Keith A. Ratliff strolled into the SSA office on Aurora Avenue North wearing both a backpack and a fanny pack. Bryan Tallmadge, the security guard on duty at the time, asked Ratliff for permission to search the bags, but Ratliff ignored the request and lingered in the lobby for a few moments, according to court documents.

The security guard, an ex-Marine and private contractor from the company Paragon Systems, eventually pulled out his pepper spray, at which point Ratliff allegedly "bladed his body into a fighting stance and shook his head side to side as if he were preparing to fight." Court documents say Ratliff soon tried to flee the premises.

When Tallmadge tried to detain the unruly fanny-pack wearer, the pair grappled and fell to the floor, at which point Ratliff allegedly kicked the security guard in the head several times, eventually pinning him. An SSA office manager jumped into the fray, freeing one of Tallmadge's arms. According to court documents, Ratliff then put the security guard in a chokehold and kneed him in the head and back.

Another SSA office worker came to the rescue, and the three federal employees eventually were able to get Ratliff in handcuffs. Seattle police arrived on the scene and arrested Ratliff, who reportedly refused to explain his side of the incident, except to say "He jumped me. Watch the video, you'll see: He jumped me."

Court documents say that as Ratliff was being hauled off to the federal detention center, he said, "If I had gotten his gun, that mother****** would be dead right now."

Ratliff is now charged with assault on a federal officer or employee, a felony. Federal prosecutors asked a judge to keep Ratliff locked up pending trial because he has "a lengthy criminal history of arrests and convictions going back to 1988. His history indicates he has substance-abuse problems and mental-health problems. He has failed to appear for court appearances on numerous occasions, and there are currently active warrants for his arrest that are outstanding."

Ratliff's public defender did not return a call seeking comment. A spokesman for the Western Washington U.S. Attorney's Office was unsure what, if anything, Ratliff was carrying in his fanny pack at the time of his arrest.

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