Pierce County man charged after chasing his stolen truck

EATONVILLE, Wash. — A Pierce County man has been charged after he chased after his stolen truck as law enforcement watched due to current laws.


KIRO 7 News spoke with Aaron Babcock, the owner of Sunrise Auto Sales in Eatonville, Washington, Tuesday.

On November 23, 2022, Babcock said a man casually walked towards one of his Ford trucks parked at his dealership in broad daylight. Surveillance video captured Babcock running outside when the man got inside the truck and began driving off.

Babcock said he had parked the vehicle in the parking lot, while the engine was running, and quickly ran inside the building to get “For Sale” signs.

When Babcock confronted the suspect, he pointed his gun at him to stop him from leaving the parking lot, but the suspect continued to drive off, while crashing into another truck and almost running over people.

Babcock did not want to shoot the suspect; he told KIRO 7 News.

“He was afraid of it (gun), but it didn’t stop him,” he said. “It was scary. I was putting myself in this position to stop him, and I could’ve gotten easily ran over and could’ve died myself, but no, he had no fear. No fear of getting shot or anything. He just got out of here quick.”

According to court documents, law enforcement tried to stop the suspect, Kiliona Hunkin, 28, with their lights and sirens on, however Hunkin drove faster and began to pass other vehicles on the road.

Pierce County deputies stopped their pursuit, but the truck’s owner continued to chase after the stolen truck, investigators said.

Deputies set up stop sticks at the intersection of 304th Street and Meridian Avenue East to slow down the suspect, but the stolen truck swerved through the intersection and crashed into another vehicle before the suspect sped off.

“That was the most heart-breaking moment. To show up and see all these cops there. I could see it from a distance, and I thought, ‘oh good, they got him.’ There’s many many police officers there, and for me to pull up and he’s not there,” he said.

Babcock eventually caught up with the stolen truck near Graham after the vehicle had engine failure. He held the suspect at gunpoint until deputies arrived at the scene.

Eatonville police arrested the suspect, deputies told KIRO 7 News.

Babcock said the incident had cost him more than $10,000, adding that his insurance rate has significantly increased.

The truck’s owner has been charged with a misdemeanor of reckless driving and is scheduled to appear in court on May 13 after he chased after the criminal who stole his truck, he said.

Pierce County deputies said Babcock ran two red lights during the pursuit.


Under current Washington State law, law enforcement cannot pursue suspects except for specific reasons, including there is reasonable suspicion that the suspect has committed a violent offense or sex offense, is driving under the influence, the pursuit is needed to identify a person, or the suspect poses a serious risk of harm to others.

Babcock said he does not blame law enforcement for the outcome or his charge, however, he and his father put the blame on lawmakers.

“No police officer, they don’t become law enforcement to not want to do their job. They want to enforce the laws. They want to help the community. It’s frustrating for them, I understand, to not be able to do that,” said Aaron Babcock.

“Hopefully it’ll change. Hopefully people will understand this is a huge problem in Washington,” he said. “I hope the laws change. The laws need to change. It’s very dangerous for people to stand up and defend their own property on their own. That’s why we have law enforcement to do that for us and it’s heartbreaking to see that they’re unable to do that in a lot of aspects.”

Babcock said the current law is putting many small businesses at risk along with families.

“It’s not just affecting businesses; it’s affecting everyone in the community. And I think it’s only getting worse. Auto theft is only growing in numbers every day and unless we don’t change the laws or change things about it and come together, it is only going to get worse. It’s going to affect us worse every day,” he shared.

We also spoke with David Babcock, Aaron’s father, who owned the business prior to 2024.

“They (suspect) can’t be pursued. If you’re a little kid and can go get a cookie out of the cookie jar and mom isn’t going to do anything about it, that little kid is going to take more cookies and that’s exactly what these thieves are doing,” he said.

“The system has been faltering and I believe that if it continues to falter, I won’t be in business much longer. My insurance went from $7,000 to $14,000,” the father added.

However, the current law will change beginning in June.

Law enforcement will be able to pursue suspects if they have “reasonable suspicion” that someone has violated the law and “poses a threat to the safety of others,”

This will take effect on June 6.


According to court documents, Hunkin was initially charged with stealing a vehicle, failure to obey, reckless driving, duty in case of damage to attended vehicle or property, and duty on striking unattended vehicle.

However, the prosecutor’s office amended the charges to second-degree stealing a vehicle.

KIRO 7 News looked at a court document that included the prosecutor’s statement behind the amendments.

The document had a list of checkboxes to support the prosecutor’s changes, including:

  • Evidentiary problems exist which make conviction on the original charge doubtful
  • The nature and seriousness of the offense(s) charged justify an amendment
  • The amendment corrects errors in the initial charging decision
  • There was a request for a reduction by the victim and it was not the result of pressure from the defendant
  • There is a probable effect on the witness in this case which justify an amendment
  • There were facts discovered which mitigate the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct
  • The defendant has no criminal history or minimal criminal history
  • The defendant cooperated in the investigation or prosecution of others whose criminal conduct is more serious or represents a greater public interest

None of the boxes were checked and the prosecutor’s office did not provide any explanation, except the “victim has been notified of the amended information.”

KIRO 7 News asked Babcock if he was notified and was given an explanation.

Babcock said the prosecutor’s office did not inform him.

KIRO 7 News reached out to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office to get more information. We’re still waiting to hear back.

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