A Walla Walla man suspected of being high on drugs and assaulting a U.S. Postal Service carrier earlier this month now faces a federal criminal charge.

The grand jury indictment of Nicholas T. Hunter, 26, charging him with assault on a federal employee resulting in bodily injury was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

As a result, a state charge of second-degree assault against Hunter filed in Walla Walla County Superior Court was dismissed Wednesday pending the outcome of the federal case.

Officials say Hunter attacked mail carrier Justin D. Courie about 3:25 p.m. on Nov. 3 in the area of Park and Oak streets.

Courie told police he was walking on a sidewalk on Oak when he noticed a man in front of him who was staring with a strange look. When Courie asked if anything was wrong, the man — later identified as Hunter — allegedly punched him in the face.

Courie tried to restrain Hunter, but he ran north on Park until officers apprehended him across U.S. Highway 12, according to a police report filed in Superior Court.

Courie suffered a cut below his right eye and a cracked and chipped tooth, but declined medical assistance at the scene.

Hunter reportedly said he was fighting with Courie in mutual combat.

Hunter “had taken a bad dose of some type of drug the night before, as this was the third time that day that (an officer) had been called to respond to him as he wandered the streets, intoxicated by drugs,” the police report says.

Hunter, whose address isn’t confirmed, was booked into the County Jail, but was expected to be transferred to federal custody today.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

Terry McConn reports on court cases and coordinates special projects for the Union-Bulletin. McConn, a Whitman College graduate, joined the U-B in 1987.