(Update: Uballez attorney statement; disputes DA on what transpired, will fight charges)
Officer Kevin Uballez facing fourth-degree assault, harassment charges
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel filed charges of fourth-degree assault and harassment Friday against Bend Police Officer Kevin Uballez, accused of slamming an intoxicated man and sending him to the pavement. Three Summit High students also face charges for an earlier beating of the man.
Here's Hummel's statement, with added info from the news conference, a Bend Police statement and a statement from Uballez's attorney, disputing the sequence of events. The attorney says his client will fight the charges.:
On June 6 of this year, at approximately 1:00 AM, Officer Uballez responded to a call of a possibly intoxicated pedestrian running in the middle of NW Skyliners road near the intersection with NW Lemhi Pass Drive. This pedestrian was indeed intoxicated, (NewsChannel 21 is not releasing his name). He is 42 years old and is a resident of Colville, Washington. He was in Bend while he worked on a construction remodel project for a house in NW Bend.
When Officer Uballez arrived on the scene, __ was attempting to get up from the ground in the middle of the road. Officer Uballez says that __did not initially comply with his commands, so he got his K9 dog out of his car. With the dog out of the car, Uballez says he instructed ___ to step back and drop to his knees: ___ complied with this order.
Once ___ was on his knees, Uballez put his dog back in his patrol car. As Uballez was putting his dog in his car, two other Bend Police Officers arrived on the scene: Officers Peter Enna and Martin Tabaco.
The three officers then walked toward ___, who was on his knees and fully compliant. Uballez reached ___ first, and when he did, he grabbed him from the back and slammed his upper body forward, resulting in ___face violently striking the pavement; the force of this blow significantly injured ___ nose. There was no legal justification for slamming ____ face into the pavement; therefore, it constituted the crimes of Assault in the Fourth Degree and Harassment.
The public would never have known of this incident if it were not for the fact that Officers Enna and Tabaco reported to their supervisors that the force used was excessive. Also, if Officers Enna and Tabaco did not report this matter, we would never have known of another crime that occurred moments before the crimes committed by Officer Uballez.
The Oregon State Police investigated the allegations against Uballez, and in the course of their investigation, they uncovered a troubling and sad incident. Three Summit High School students encountered ____ before he was assaulted by Uballez. ____ was in the street, drunk, and disoriented. Rather than calling for help for ____, these students assaulted him and left him in the street. ___ then stumbled around alone, in the dark, and in pain, until he was encountered by Uballez.
Two of these people who assaulted ___ were under 18, and today I filed a petition in juvenile court charging them for their assaults.
The third was 18 at the time of the assault, and will be offered the opportunity to have his case handled via the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Emerging Adult Program.
The four suspects are presumed innocent of these crimes, and in fact are innocent of these crimes, unless and until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Oregon State Police conducted a top-notch and through investigation, and I thank them for their excellent work.
Mr. Uballez’s first court appearance in this matter is November 9, 2021 at 1:15.
Statement from District Attorney Hummel:
“Officers Enna and Tabaco are the embodiment of what it means to be a law enforcement officer. They understand their job is to enforce the law and keep us safe. I appreciate how difficult it must be to report a colleague for their misdeeds. These officers put service to our community ahead of protection of a colleague; I’m proud of them.”
Hummel said the incident involving Uballez was not captured on video but released 10 minutes of body-cam video taken moments later by another officer, David Peterson, who arrived on the scene, and showed the man lying on the ground, with a small pool of blood on the street.
Hummel also stressed that Bend police initiated the investigation when the two other officers reported it to supervisors, and Police Chief Mike Krantz then contacted OSP, which is when Hummel became involved.
"OSP left no stone unturned in this investigation," he said, checking security and surveillance videos in the area, as well as cellphone and 911 calls that night.
Asked about the earlier assault, Hummel said, "A car full of these kids from Summit High drove by (the man in the street) and there was an interaction. He yelled something, he was intoxicated. Rather than drive by, they got out and apparently wanted to teach him a lesson. And they gave him a beat-down -- they hit him and kicked him, and they left."
Hummel explained the delay in charges due to a "labor-intensive and time-intensive investigation."
The students when first contacted "denied knowing anything about the assault," he said, until later, when one parent came forward with information about one of the teens.
Hummel noted that the alleged victim has no memory of either assault, but said he will testify in court, if the case goes to trial. He said the man suffered injuries to his eye, eye socket and nose.
"He can very clearly tell you about his pain today and his injuries today," the DA said.
Bend Police Dept. news release:
Early on Sunday, June 6, Bend Police Officer Kevin Uballez responded to reports that a person was in the roadway and possibly chasing after vehicles at NW Skyliners Road and NW Lemhi Pass Drive. Upon arrival, the officer engaged with the person, identified as a 42-year-old white male, and eventually arrested him for disorderly conduct and menacing.
Two additional police officers arrived at the scene and observed the arresting officer use force to make the arrest. The person received treatment at the scene for minor injuries and was transported to St. Charles Hospital to treat non-life-threatening injuries.
Both assisting police officers separately reported to supervisors that they believed that Officer Uballez used unreasonable force during the arrest, given the totality of the circumstances they knew. As a result, Bend Police supervisors began to review the incident.
On June 6, Police Chief Mike Krantz placed Officer Uballez on administrative leave pending an incident review. On Monday, June 7, the Bend Police Department requested that the Oregon State Police conduct a criminal investigation into the allegations of unreasonable force used by the officer. Simultaneously, the Bend Police Department opened an internal administrative investigation.
Today, The District Attorney's Office has informed the Bend Police Department that Officer Uballez has been charged with assault IV and harassment.
Because there are ongoing, open criminal and internal administrative investigations, the Police Department will not release additional details or make additional comments about this incident or this case.
The Bend Police Department's "Policy 300 – Force Response" Bend Police Department Policies | City of Bend (bendoregon.gov) sets expectations for police conduct. Officers are frequently involved in interactions that may warrant using objectively reasonable force in carrying out their duties.
"Police officers must make decisions in tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving circumstances," said Police Chief Mike Krantz. "A police officer's decision to use force in that split second may have a long-lasting impact on the person force was used on, the officer, the agency, the community, and others. Because of this impact, force responses by police officers deserve scrutiny. When a police officer decides to use force, we must call on ourselves to be accountable for those actions and accountable to our community by ensuring a complete and thorough investigation."
Oregon State law and Bend Police Policy 300 says that police officers who witness another police officer engage in what they believe could be misconduct shall report those observations to a supervisor immediately or as soon as practicable. Oregon law identifies the use of force that is objectively unreasonable under the totality of the circumstances as misconduct. The Bend Police Department policy is more restrictive than the Oregon State Law on the timeline of mandatory reporting of misconduct of other police officers.
"As guardians of our community, our police officers will hold each other accountable to the highest standards possible. In this instance, two Bend police officers met my expectations when they displayed a high degree of accountability in reporting actions that they believed fell outside the reasonable force standards. No matter the outcome of the investigation after reviewing all available evidence, the display of integrity by these officers should be recognized and respected. Our Bend police officers pride themselves on providing excellent service to our community, and this alleged misconduct by one employee does not reflect our department's ethos," said Krantz.
Chief Krantz said, "I would also like to thank the Oregon State Police and the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office for their enduring partnerships and willingness to conduct this independent investigation professionally, expeditiously, and thoroughly."
Statement from Uballez attorney Steve Myers:
Mr Hummel’s statements to the press today are quite concerning, in that he mischaracterizes what was reported by those on scene and conveniently withholds reported facts that provide a more accurate account of the encounter.
Ostensibly, in an apparent attempt to justify charging an officer with an unblemished 7 years of service to the community who did his level best to defuse and convince a man not to carry out his threats to physically attack and fight Officer Uballez and attack Officer Uballez’s K-9 partner, Kim.
(What) Mr Hummel failed to include in his briefings to the press, is that Officer Uballez, in responding to a citizens call for police help, stopped his patrol vehicle approximately 50 yards from (the man). Officer Uballez was alone and now parked on a dark unlit road.
Upon exiting his patrol vehicle, (the man) asked if he was a police officer, to which Officer Uballez responded in the affirmative and then simply inquired “What’s going on?”
(The man) promptly got up and immediately started marching directly towards Officer, Uballez repeatedly threatening to physically attack and fight him. Officer Uballez responded that he doesn’t want to fight him, but (the man) continued marching towards him, repeating his threats.
Now concerned he was surely going to be attacked by (the man), Officer Uballez radios for help. Officer Uballez then tries to thwart the attack by telling (the man) to back up and that if he attempts to attack him he will have his dog bite him. (The man) replies “I’ll **** your dog up.”
Thinking that maybe showing Kim to (the man) would convince (the man) to comply, Officer Uballez quickly retrieved Kim and both Officer Uballez and Kim both go down, Officer Uballez to his knees and Kim to his stomach. It was at this late stage of the encounter that 2 cover officers arrive on scene, officers Tabaco and Enna.
Officer Uballez quickly puts Kim back into the patrol vehicle. All three officers report instructing (the man) to get onto his stomach (not to his knees as stated by Mr. Hummel). (The man) refused to do so and remained on his knees near Officer Uballez’s car.
In an effort to safely take (the man) into custody, Officer Uballez quickly approached (the man) from the side and, consistent with his training and utilizing a policy approved technique, he grabbed (the man's) left wrist and pushes on (his) back left shoulder blade, forcing (the man's) upper torso forward onto the pavement into a prone position.
No officers report Officer Uballez “slamming“ his face down, as Mr. Hummel states. Moreover, Officer Uballez did not grab or push on (the man's) head or neck that perhaps would suggest an intent to cause (his) face to strike the pavement. Officers Enna and Uballez then handcuffed (the man).
Officer Uballez then notices that (the man) was bleeding from his nose and, as is required by Bend PD policy, medics were summoned to the scene to evaluate (the man) for injuries. While waiting for medics, (the man) continued to threaten to fight another officer.
Notable is that Officer Uballez did not know (the man); did not know the level of (his) fighting skills; did not know that (the man) was drinking alcohol earlier and, if so, the quantity he consumed; did not know that (the man) was involved in a physical fight with 3 other younger males earlier in the evening; and at no time did (the man) verbalize he was going to abort his threats to physically fight and/ or otherwise express a willingness to give up and/or comply with police commands.