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Assault charges dismissed against Bend Police Officer Kevin Uballez; key officer witness resigns, can’t testify

Kevin Uballez appears in court on assault charge in November 2021
KTVZ file
Kevin Uballez appears in court on assault charge in November 2021

Still on the force, pending outcome of internal investigation; civil lawsuit filed against city pending

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Fourth-degree assault and harassment charges against Bend Police Officer Kevin Uballez in a June 2021 incident in which he was accused of assaulting an intoxicated man have been formally dismissed, Deschutes County District Attorney Steve Gunnels announced Wednesday.

"The decision stems from a thorough evaluation of the case, revealing insufficient evidence to sustain prosecution," Gunnels said in a news release.

The incident involved a 42-year-old man who at the time was a Colville, Washington resident, the district attorney said.

The reportedly intoxicated man "was the subject of an arrest by Officer Uballez on the early morning of June 6, 2021 around 12:50 AM," Gunnels said. He "had engaged in erratic behavior in the vicinity of Lemhi Pass Drive on the west side of Bend, ultimately resulting in a confrontation with Bend police."

The Class A an B misdemeanor charges were filed against Uballez that fall by then-DA John Hummel, who said Uballez slammed the man to the pavement. The alleged sequence of events that night was quickly disputed by Uballez's attorney, who said he only grabbed the violent man's arm and shoulder after the man's earlier encounter with three Summit High School students.

"During the investigation, concerns about Officer Uballez's use of force were raised by two backup officers," the DA said Wednesday. "The second backup officer would have been an essential witness at trial, but resigned from the Bend Police Department as a result of a subsequent arrest that he made (unrelated to this case) in which he misrepresented the circumstances of the arrest."

"He has been disqualified as a witness in all cases and has been placed on the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office Brady List," Gunnels wrote.

A Brady list is compiled by prosecutors with the names and details of law enforcement officers who have incidents of untruthfulness, criminal convictions or other issues that place their credibility as a trial witness in question.

"Due to the absence of adequate evidence available to establish the manner in which the injuries were sustained, and by whom, the District Attorney’s Office has concluded that we are unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," Gunnels concluded.

In a statement accompanying Tuesday's motion to dismiss the matter, Gunnels said "an essential witness for the state is Brady-disqualified and remaining evidence would not be sufficient to support a conviction." Circuit Judge Wells Ashby signed the order dismissing the case.

Court records indicate Uballez is now a Portland resident. However, "Officer Uballez remains on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the internal administrative employment investigation," Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller said Wednesday. She said she could not speak further to the status of that investigation.

Uballez's attorney, Steve Myers of Portland, said Wednesday: "I fully expected that this (dismissal) was going to happen" and praised Gunnels for his handling of the case.

"Judge Ashby, when he heard the facts, was indignant why this case was in that courtroom," Myers said. He also noted that the alleged assault victim has filed a civil lawsuit against the city and officer.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Barney Lerten

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