By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Bend Police released a statement Thursday saying Bend Police acted professionally while at a gathering near Pilot Butte on Saturday.
The statement contradicts some allegations on social media that say a Bend Police officer choked a woman to the point of unconsciousness and another officer spat on a woman.
“The investigators looked through all the videos and we determined that the officers were very professional and calm throughout the event, and were very clear and concise with what they told people,” Juli McConkey, with Bend Police, said.
A team of investigators reviewed a “large amount of evidence,” according McConkey, and found there was no evidence to support a claim that an officer choked a person or that a person was spit on by police.
The allegations are referring to police conduct at an event where President Trump supporters showed up at a Black Lives Matter supporter gathering.
Bend Police released four videos to the public, which show officers attempting to move people out of the way of a patrol car.
“It’s illegal for somebody to be blocking in a patrol car and the officers were very clear and concise and told them, ‘you need to move,'” McConkey said.
It’s uncommon for police to release material before submitting that material to the District Attorney’s Office for review, but McConkey said this is a special circumstance.
“This has been all over social media and a lot of questions are coming in so out of public interest, that’s why the videos and a statement were released,” McConkey said.
Kerstin Arias, the co-founder of Central Oregon Diversity Project, said she found the police’s statement disappointing.
“Continuously we’re shown that no matter how much proof we have, how much we show them, how many videos, how many witnesses — it’s never seen as enough,” Arias said.
Bend Police’s full statement is available below.
On October 3, 2020 Bend Police officers were called to the Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park to address calls for service and reported criminal activity during a protest event. While at this event, officers took reports of various crimes and as the officers were trying to leave the scene, a group of individuals sat and stood in front of their vehicles to block them from leaving. Officers engaged with these people in an effort to get them to clear the area so they could leave the park.
The Bend Police Department is aware that community members have questions about allegations that one of our officers choked a person to the point of unconsciousness using their backpack and spat on someone during this engagement.
As previously released, we have assigned an investigative team to review the large amount of evidence that was produced during this event, including numerous different video recordings. We will review the actions of all involved, including our officers.
During standard investigative process, we typically do not release any material prior to submitting the information to the District Attorney’s Office for review. However, due to the overwhelming community interest and in the interest of overall public safety and transparency, we are providing this update based on our review of available evidence to this point.
Our review of the available evidence demonstrates the following:
- Bend Police officers remained professional, calm and communicated in a clear and concise manner.
- Officers gave clear directions for members of the crowd to move.
- The evidence does not support a claim that any officer choked any person.
- The evidence does not support a claim that any person lost consciousness from being choked during their contact with Bend Police.
- Many members of the crowd disregarded the lawful orders given to them by Bend Police Officers to stop obstructing Bend Police officers from leaving the scene in a police vehicle.
- There is no evidence we have reviewed suggesting any officer spat on any community member.
Allegations of misconduct by our employees are taken very seriously and because of the seriousness of these issues, we initiated a review immediately. We will continue to review any additional information or evidence that is submitted to us or as it becomes available.
No officers have been placed on administrative leave or are under formal investigation at this time as a result of this incident.
To view the videos that were available that we have reviewed, please see the links below.
Video 001: https://youtu.be/U1ZM_lJzWHc
Video 002: https://youtu.be/2kerlf3RqXE
Video 003: https://youtu.be/jeSftmkIFY0
Video 004: https://youtu.be/wGXVeDtc2OM
Submitted by: Lt. Juli McConkey