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Redmond man accused of claiming COVID-19, spitting, coughing on Bend PD officer

Daniel Ray Stubblefield
Deschutes County Jail
Daniel Ray Stubblefield

'We're not messing around,' DA John Hummel says

(Update: Adding interview, comments from DA: officer has developed cough, self-isolated)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Redmond man was indicted Friday on charges that he told a Bend police officer he had the COVID-19 virus and then spat, coughed and breathed on him while being arrested on outstanding warrants, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said.

Daniel Ray Stubblefield, 35, is scheduled for arraignment Monday afternoon on one count of aggravated harassment, two counts of attempted assault on a public safety officer, one count of menacing and one count of recklessly endangering another person.

Bend police responded last Monday to a call of an unwanted person at a southwest Bend residence, Hummel said. They arrived and determined that Stubblefield was the unwanted person and had warrants for his arrest. He was arrested and taken to the Deschutes County Jail.

On the drive to the jail, Stubblefield allegedly told the officer he had COVID-19 and began spitting and breathing on the officer, the district attorney said.

That prompted the officer to stop the car, get out and wait for back-up officers to arrive. When they did, they put Stubblefield in the WRAP restraint device, with a spit mask, Hummel said.

Daniel Ray Stubblefield

Once they arrived at the jail, the jail staff determined that Stubblefield should be taken to St. Charles Bend. During the trip to the hospital, “Stubblefield was not in a WRAP because he had calmed down,” Hummel said.

However, it’s alleged Stubblefield then again intentionally blew air on and coughed on the officer.

Friday's indictment alleges Stubblefield "did unlawfully and knowingly propel saliva, mucus and his breath" on the officer, trying to injure him "by spitting, coughing and breathing at him while telling (the officer that he) had the coronavirus."

Stubblefield remained in jail Friday, held on $80,000 bail.

“We’re not messing around,” Hummel said in a statement. “Our first responders, medical professionals, and retail clerks are on the front lines of the battle to save lives and win the war against COVID-19. 

"If anyone in our community takes a shot at infecting, and thus potentially killing, one of our front-line heroes, I will use the full authority granted to me by the people of Oregon to hold them accountable.”

"Mr. Stubblefield is presumed innocent of these charges, and in fact is innocent, unless and until his guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt," the district attorney added. "If his guilt is proven, I will seek the maximum penalty authorized by law.”

Hummel later told NewsChannel 21 the officer who was coughed and spat upon has developed a cough himself, and has self-isolated.

As for the suspect, Hummel said he had not been able to requisition Stubblefield's health records yet.

Hummel said because of Stubblefield's attempts to resist arrest, at least three officers, if not more, were exposed to him, as well as potential exposure at the jail, before he was sent to the hospital.

He said no one involved in the incident has been able to get a COVID-19 test yet, as far as he knows.

Hummel also said he's upset that the officer has been unable to be tested for COVID-19 since the incident.

"I want him to have that test -- the community should want him to have that test," the DA said, upset at the Trump administration for the scarcity of testing.

"It's a national disgrace that our leaders have failed us in that regard," Hummel said. "First responders can't get a test when coughed and spat on by someone claiming COVID-19? I'm embarrassed for our country."

Hummel said the president was right about this being a war with major impacts on communities. That's why he said people on the front lines, from first responders to medical professionals, postal workers and retail clerks, should be able to get tested.

Hummel said the fast-moving investigation is not complete, but said there are three basic possibilities -- that the suspect either has COVID-19, knew he had it and was trying to infect the officer; that he doesn't have it, thought he had it and was doing so -- or knew he didn't have it and was "trying to scare the living daylights out of someone."

"All three of those are a crime, and all three of those, if we prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, I will seek the maximum penalty," Hummel said.

The district attorney also said he's unaware of any other Oregon cases involving charges of try to infect public safety officers with COVID-19.

Hummel added that he's been speaking with the Oregon U.S. tAtorney's Office about possibly charging Stubblefield with "terroristic threats."

Court records show Stubblefield was wanted for failure to appear in court on charges including fourth degree-assault in a domestic violence incident, harassment and of assaulting, attempting to assault and interfering with a public safety officer last November.

In 2015, he entered an Alford plea (not admitting to charges, only that he could be found guilty in court) on a strangulation charge and was sentenced to nearly two years in prison, the records show. He also was charged in several felony cases dating back to 2002.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

Tyson Beauchemin

Tyson Beauchemin is a photojournalist for NewsChannel 21


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