Man in Tree

Man in Tree
The sequoia tree in the Stewart Street traffic island on March 23, with surrounding streets closed off by police

Man in Tree refers to a widely viewed standoff between Cody Lee Miller and police on March 22–23, 2016, in Seattle, Washington. Miller scaled a large sequoia tree near a major downtown intersection and remained there for over 24 hours, rebuffing rescue and negotiation attempts and tossing debris at onlookers. The situation disrupted Seattle traffic patterns, became a trending topic across social media, and attracted national attention from news outlets. Miller's treatment by law enforcement and coverage by the media has spurred further debate on the adequacy of mental health care in the USA.


Miller climbed an 80-foot (24 m) sequoia in a Stewart Street traffic island outside the historic former Bon Marché flagship store in downtown Seattle, early on March 22, 2016. He remained there for nearly 25 hours while police forces attempted to coax him down.[1] Miller responded to dialog attempts by throwing sequoia cones, branches he had torn from the crown, and fruit remains,[2] some of which hit passersby.[1] The falling debris and the intervention efforts gridlocked roadways in downtown Seattle’s center, forcing multiple buses to find alternate routes.[2] The event garnered significant media attention, prompting viral Twitter parodies, live streams of negotiation efforts,[3][4] and national news coverage.[5] After over 24 hours, Miller descended the tree of his own accord at around 11:45 AM on March 23, where he was given food and taken into an ambulance.[2] Miller was subsequently charged with third-degree assault and first-degree malicious mischief[1] but was found incompetent to stand trial after a psychiatric competency evaluation.[6][7]


Onlookers on 4th Avenue watching the "Man in Tree"

Man in Tree generated nationwide interest, with news stations feeding live streams of the event and Twitter users elevating the hashtag "#ManInTree" to trending status.[2][4][5][8]

The event also rekindled discussion of the country’s mental health system. After the incident, Miller’s mother said that he was "obviously sick" and that psychiatric care would be more appropriate than jail time.[1] Online periodicals helped spread this perspective in hopes of reorienting the conversation around systemic reform.[9][10] Miller himself denounced Seattle law enforcement for his alleged mistreatment in the aftermath.[11] Additionally, Congressman Tim Murphy (R, PA) cited Man in Tree when calling for Congressional action on his proposed Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646).[12]

Tree experts evaluated the sequoia afterward and found that the ordeal inflicted roughly $7,800 worth of damage to the tree.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d "'He's obviously sick': Mother of Seattle's tree-climbing man says he needs help". The Seattle Times. 2016-03-28. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  2. ^ a b c d "'The man in the tree' mesmerizes Seattle — from 80 feet". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  3. ^ "KOMO's Live Stream Of Seattle's #ManInTree Is Actually Hilarious". Newsy. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  4. ^ a b Live stream of THIS has captivated viewers - CNN Video, retrieved 2016-10-18
  5. ^ a b Victor, Daniel (2016-03-23). "Seattle Man Descends From 80-Foot Tree After 24 Hours". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  6. ^ "Seattle's 'man in tree' incompetent to stand trial". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  7. ^ Chan, Melissa. "Seattle's 'Man in Tree' Sent to a Psychiatric Hospital". Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  8. ^ "'Man in Tree' Descends, Ends 25-Hour Drama". NBC New York. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  9. ^ Miller, Jami (2016-04-11). ""Man in Tree" Highlights Broken Mental Health System". The Progressive Army. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  10. ^ "A man in a tree made a whole city laugh. Then his mom spoke out, and the laughing stopped". Upworthy. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  11. ^ "'Man in tree' tells court: The Seattle Police Department sent me to hell for climbing a big tree". Q13 FOX News. 2016-03-25. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  12. ^ "Congressman Tim Murphy : Latest News : E-News from Congressman Murphy". Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  13. ^ Hauser, Christine (2016-03-29). "Damage After Man Climbs and Camps in Seattle Tree? $7,800". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-10-18.

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Coordinates: 47°36′44″N 122°20′20″W / 47.612167°N 122.338762°W / 47.612167; -122.338762