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A distraught woman suspected of shoplifting at a sporting goods store on North Reserve Street allegedly hit, bit and kicked an officer trying to arrest her in her Missoula home Tuesday night.

Charging documents say Ashley Tiffany Bestwina, 27, kicked Officer Patrick Mulligan after he pulled her to the floor, then struck him twice on the side of his head with a closed fist and bit him twice. One bite broke skin and caused bruising and redness on Mulligan's forearm.

"It took additional officers about five minutes to arrive at the scene due to the residence being difficult to locate," an affidavit of probable cause filed Wednesday said. "Ashley continued to resist arrest ... until other officers arrived."

Bestwina was taken into custody at her Idaho Street home about 9:30 p.m. Bail of $20,000 was set Wednesday in Missoula County Justice Court on charges of felony assault on a police officer and misdemeanors of theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.

Mulligan was investigating a report that Bestwina stole hats, hair ties and a blue bandanna from Sportsman's Warehouse earlier in the evening, then drove off in the 1998 Ford Escort an acquaintance had driven her to the store in – sans the acquaintance.

A store employee told police he noticed Bestwina in the store "because of her level of intoxication" and watched her fill her handbag with gloves and hats. The employee told the clerk to stall Bestwina at the checkout register, where she was attempting to pay for two steering wheel covers. Bestwina "became angry, dropped the covers and ran out of the store" with her handbag of stolen merchandise, the affidavit said.

Mulligan investigated, driving to Bestwina's Idaho Street residence, "the last address she had provided the Detention Center booking department," the charging papers read. He spotted Bestwina walking outside and was able to identify her based on "several prior contacts."

Mulligan reported Bestwina's speech was slurred and she appeared to have trouble walking. Noting her shirt was torn and she was shivering, he allowed her to enter her house to put on warmer clothes. She attempted to slam the door shut to keep him from following, according to the affidavit.

"Knowing she had been positively identified in the theft and that Ashley had three outstanding warrants, Officer Mulligan entered the residence," the document said. "He grabbed Ashley by her wrist in an attempt to (put) her in handcuffs. She began to resist."

After she was finally subdued and placed under arrest, Bestwina told officers she'd left the acquaintance's car at the north end of the California Street Bridge. It was located and the suspected stolen hats, bandanna and hair ties were found on the ground next to the vehicle, all with tags indicating they were from Sportsman's Warehouse.

Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech set a preliminary hearing for Dec. 24.

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Mineral County, veterans issues

Outlying communities, transportation, history and general assignment reporter at the Missoulian