Deschutes County DA: Officer’s use of force justified; arrest deemed unlawful

A Redmond police officer was justified in his actions when he punched a man twice in the face during an August arrest, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said Friday.

But Hummel also said the officer made a mistake in even arresting 25-year-old Darian Belles at Sam Johnson Park, saying they did not have probable cause to arrrest Belles at the time.

The incident happened on August 14th when Holman approached Belles at the park because his dog was off leash and he suspected Belles of drug crimes, which proved to be untrue.

“Officer Holman believed, when he arrested Mr. Belles that probable cause existed for him to make that arrest, but he was mistaken. I find there was not a lawful basis for this arrest,” Hummel said. 

The Redmond Police Department’s initial report said Belles resisted arrest at the time and continued to resist arrest even when officers had him on the ground.

During the afternoon press conference Hummel said for first time Officer Bryan Holman actually had been tased moments before throwing the punches. Hummel said Holman only threw the punches to regain control of Belles, who was struggling with officers during the arrest, which was caught on cell phone video and officer body cameras.

“Immediately after Belles was tazed by Officer (Chris) Wooten, Belles grabbed the tazer and a struggling match ensued between Belles, Wooten and Holman for control of that tazer,” Hummel said. “During that struggle, Officer Holman was tazed.”

Ultimately, Belles was secured in custody after additional officers arrived.

Redmond Police Chief Dave Tarbet and City Manager Keith Witcosky issued a joint statement shortly after Hummel’s announcement, saying they were pleased with the decision.

“We appreciate District Attorney Hummel’s thoughtful and deliberate analysis of the recent public safety incident at Sam Johnson Park…The DA plays an important check and balance to law enforcement.  We value the partnership we have with Mr. Hummel and we accept and will learn from his conclusions,” the statement said.

In late August, Hummel dropped five of the seven charges against Belles.

He still faces charges of resisting arrest and interfering with an officer. Belles has pleaded not guilty.

“We as a community give officers a badge and a gun and we give them the power to restrict people’s liberty, to put people in handcuffs and put them in jail.” Hummel said in August before launching the investigation. “That’s a tremendous amount of power we give them. With that power comes tremendous responsibility that they must exercise.”

Holman was involved in another use of force investigation earlier this summer. He was cleared of any wrongdoing in that incident as well.

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