A Bend police officer faces criminal charges filed Friday by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office.
Officer Kevin Uballez is accused of assaulting a person while taking them into custody. Uballez is charged with one count of fourth degree assault and one count of harassment, both misdemeanors.
In a press conference, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel applauded two fellow Bend police officers for reporting the June incident to supervisors, leading to a criminal investigation by Oregon State Police.
Hummel said Bend police got a call for service around 1 a.m., June 6, reporting a possibly intoxicated pedestrian. The state police investigation into Uballez would later reveal this pedestrian had already been the victim of a random attack in Northwest Bend that night, allegedly by three high school students.
Hummel said Uballez arrived without knowing this, and found a lone, intoxicated man struggling to get off the ground in the middle of the road.
“Officer Uballez says that [the man] did not initially comply with his commands, so he got his K9 dog out of his car,” the district attorney’s office stated in a press release.
The man then got on his knees, complying, and Uballez put the dog away, according to Hummel. At that point, Officers Peter Enna and Martin Tabaco had arrived, and all three officers walked toward the man, “who was on his knees and fully compliant,” the press release states.
The officers who first encountered the man were not wearing body worn cameras, Hummel said, though Officer David Peterson, who arrived later, did capture footage. OPB is not naming the victim of the alleged assaults because he could not immediately be reached for comment.
“Uballez reached [him] first, and when he did, [Uballez] grabbed him from the back and slammed his upper body forward, resulting in [his] face violently striking the pavement; the force of this blow significantly injured [the man’s] nose,” Hummel said in a statement.
Body worn camera footage released by the DA’s office shows a man lying prone with fresh blood on the ground near his face. The images were captured by Peterson, who arrived in the moments right after Uballez allegedly assaulted the man.
“Roll over, bud,” an unidentified officer says on the footage. “What’s your name buddy?”
The man doesn’t respond.
“What’s your name, dude?” one of the officers keeps asking, as another radios for paramedics.
“You guys violated me,” the man eventually replies.
“What’s your name?” an officer responds, this time more emphatically.
“You guys fucking hit me really hard,” the man says.
“Yes, we did,” one of the officers says.
The police then move the man out of the road, where he is questioned by a supervisor, Cpl. Jeff Frickey.
“Hey bud… I got to talk to you since you decided to fight one of my officers, or a couple of my officers. Can you tell me what happened here tonight?”
“I did not resist arrest,” the man repeats. Frickey keeps asking him for his name, what happened, and if the officers gave him orders.
“You guys fucked up,” the man says.
Their faces are blurred in the nighttime footage, making it difficult to tell who is who, among the responding officers. Hummel confirmed Frickey’s identity.
“This isn’t a criminal matter,” the corporal says on the footage. “It’s me as a supervisor, when I arrive on scene when somebody fights with one of my officers, I have to interview them to find out why.”
Soon after that, paramedics arrived to take the man to the hospital. He has not been charged with any crimes.
In Friday’s press conference, Hummel credited Enna and Tabaco for reporting the incident to police supervisors. The DA said it otherwise may have never come to light.
“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 in a statement.
Uballez could not immediately be reached for comment through a city email account. He has worked in law enforcement for 14 years, including the past seven years with Bend police. He was placed on administrative leave June 6. His certification as a police officer remains active, according to a database maintained by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. He is expected to be arraigned Nov. 9.
Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz did not answer questions, but did issue a statement Friday.
“Police officers must make decisions in tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving circumstances,” Krantz said in that statement. “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.”
The criminal investigation into Uballez was conducted by Oregon State Police. That probe discovered evidence of additional crimes against the same victim earlier that night, Hummel said. Three Summit High School students allegedly found the man before police did.
“[He] was in the street, drunk, and disoriented,” Hummel said. “Rather than calling for help... these students assaulted him and left him in the street. [The victim] then stumbled around alone, in the dark, and in pain, until he was encountered by Uballez.”
Two of the teens are younger than 18, and face charges in juvenile court, Hummel said, while the other teen was 18 at the time of the alleged assault. Hummel did not name the adult teen. That case will be referred to a diversion program for young offenders, the Emerging Adult Program, Hummel said.