Bend woman shot by police after Hwy. 20 chase gets 30 days jail, community service
(Update: Adding video, judge's comments, file of Hummel's full statement to court)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Bend woman who was shot at least four times by police as she backed her minivan toward a K-9 team at the end of a lengthy chase on U.S. Highway 20 east of Bend in early March was sentenced Friday to 30 days in jail, 18 months probation and 150 hours of community service.
Danielle Bower, 28, was so heavily intoxicated at the time she showed up covered in blood at the St. Charles Bend ER, then led police on a chase through town before heading east that she tested for a .277 blood-alcohol count – well above the .08 legal limit – three hours after she left the house for the hospital, officials said.
After agreeing to a plea deal to avoid further court proceedings, Bower pleaded guilty to DUII and four of the seven charges of recklessly endangering another person. Charges of reckless driving, fleeing or attempting to elude police and three recklessly endangering counts were dismissed.
Bower filed a petition to enter an Alford plea of guilty, meaning she does not admit guilt, only that a jury or judge likely would convict based on the evidence. It noted that she could have faced up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000. She also pleaded no contest to DUII.
Proceedings in the case had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the court system, which also meant no audience and very few people in the courtroom of Deschutes County Circuit Judge Alison Emerson for Friday's arraignment, plea and sentencing, which took about 40 minutes in total.
"To be frank with you, in the 20 years that I've been a lawyer, prosecuting and defending felony elude cases, I've never heard of a felon elude as fast and bad as this one, ever. Usually they don't end like this," Emerson said.
"And from the court's perspective, you had so many chances to make a different decision that would have led to a different outcome.
"I understand that there could have been something that happened at your house, and you chose to drive to the hospital because you were injured. And I think that that would be an excusable reason to drive in an intoxication level like that.
"But then to get out of your car and then get back in, and people were trying to get you to stop, and trying to grab your keys, then the police are trying to get you to stop, you've been PITted once (the police PIT maneuver to stop a car), and you've been driven off the road a couple times -- you almost head-on collided with a couple different cars.
"And then you get stopped, and then you throw the car in reverse and try to continue on. I have some serious concerns about the choices that you made that night," the judge said.
Bower only answered the judge's questions and declined the opportunity to make a statement in court. She was ordered to report to Community Corrections by Friday evening and to report for her jail term a week later. Her sentence also includes a 90-day driver's license suspension.
Last month, District Attorney John Hummel ruled that two Bend police officers were legally justified in firing 14 shots at Bower on March 9 as she sped her minivan backward toward a third officer and his K-9 partner after she ran off snowy Highway 20, about 40 miles east of Bend.
Three officers had approached the minivan with guns drawn and yelled for her to stop when Bower threw it in reverse. No officers were injured.
Why Bower fled has been something investigators were trying to determine. Hummel said Bower apparently was assaulted, most likely by a guest, at her home and that she may have fled the scene due to a head injury, or because she didn't want to get caught for DUII.
In the Highway 20 encounter, Hummel said Bower was struck by four or five bullets, as well as shrapnel from shattered bullets and windshield and side-window glass.
Hummel said the two men at Bower's home when police arrived, her husband and a guest, also were so heavily intoxicated, investigators knew a fight had taken place. But they could not determine if Bower, whose nose was broken, had been struck on purpose or it was an errant punch or elbow that caused her to bleed heavily.
As for why he didn't seek a longer sentence for Bower, Hummel said: "Yes, the driving was egregious, but I have to consider all the facts that were involved, and the fact that Miss Bower had been assaulted prior to driving and had experienced a brain injury -- I'm confident that she would not have fled from the police if she had not been assaulted and suffered that brain injury."
"I encourage Ms. Bower to take advantage of this opportunity to get well, and to raise her children as they deserve to be raised," Hummel said.
"Long gone are the days our community viewed those who seek help for an addiction as somehow 'weak.' If Ms. Bower is committed to success in her recovery, she will be embraced by our community. If she sloughs off this incident, doesn't work on her recovery, and we see her in court again, the state will seek a much harsher sentence.
"Ms. Bower, I wish you well," he concluded.