REDMOND, Ore. - (Update: Adding police and witness comments)
For the second time this summer, the Redmond Police Department is refuting claims of officer misconduct or excessive use of force during an arrest after a video was widely disseminated on social media of officers taking a drug sales suspect to the ground at a park, using a Taser and physical force to subdue him.
Darian Belles, a 25-year-old Redmond-area resident, was arrested Wednesday on three counts each of interfering with a peace officer and three counts, second-degree disorderly conduct, attempted assault on a public safety officer, second-degree attempted unlawful use of a stun gun and third-degree criminal mischief.
Belles’ girlfriend, Tiffany Ann Wharton, was the one who recorded the incident. She said Thursday the situation seemed to have escalated too quickly. She described the moments leading up to the arrest as nothing out of the ordinary.
According to Wharton, she and Belles were sitting at the Sam Johnson Park pavilion in Redmond. The officers were already talking to a different group of people at the park about a separate issue.
Wharton said the police thought Belles waved them down, prompting them to come over. One of the officers tried to start a conversation with Belles, who refused to talk. Wharton said the officer then warned them they could receive a citation for not having their 7-week-old puppy on a leash, as required by the park rules. When Belles tried to stand up, the officers grabbed him and tried to restrain him.
Wharton said she didn’t know why Belles was being arrested, and that it’s hard to believe this situation could have arisen because their dog was unleashed. She said officers later told her they were arresting Belles for “interfering with the other situation they were dealing with.”
“I feel very hateful towards Redmond PD -- I mean, that’s not a reason at all,” Wharton said. “We trust these cops to protect and serve, and instead they’re beating on these people.”
Police Lt. Curtis Chambers said it is never lawful to resist arrest ,and officers have legal authority to use force they deem necessary in order to protect themselves and others.
“Officers sometimes have to make split-second decisions using only a portion of the information, not knowing everything,” Chambers said. “The video clearly shows the incident unfolding as quickly and dynamically as it did from the officers’ perspective.”
Chambers said the video will be used to help determine whether state law was followed and Redmond police policy was adhered to.
Last week, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said he'd concluded Redmond officers responded properly in late June when they arrested five people after an alleged drunken driving hit-and-run incident. He also decided not to file charges against one of the five, saying her video recording of the scene "did not constitute the crime of interference."
The officer who struck Belles in the video was confirmed by Chambers to be Officer Bryan Holman, who was involved in the previous incident in June that resulted in the arrest of five people.
As in that case, Hummel told NewsChannel 21 late Thursday, "I’ll review the evidence in this case and determine if a crime was a committed.
Here's the full statement from Redmond police on Wednesdays' incident:
"On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, at approximately 3:55 PM, two Redmond Police officers contacted a male at the Sam Johnson Park pavilion. One of the officers recognized the adult male as an alleged suspect involved in the selling of controlled substances at Sam Johnson Park. Additionally, the officer noticed the male had an unleashed dog in the park. Redmond park rules require all dogs to be on a leash when in a city park. "Officers contacted the male informing him he needed to speak with him about the dog. The male allegedly stated he was not going to talk with the officer. The officer warned the person he needed to, or else he would be arrested.
"During the contact, the decision to arrest the male for Interfering with a Peace Officer was made, and the male was ordered to turn around and put his hands behind his back. The male resisted the officer’s efforts of arrest and was placed on the ground.
"While on the ground, the suspect continued to physically resist arrest. A Taser was deployed during the attempt to place the male in custody. After the initial use of the Taser on the male, he further resisted by attempting to grab the Taser and take it away from one of the officers.
"The second officer, recognizing the suspect was attempting to take control of the Taser and putting the officer’s safety at risk, struck the suspect in the head with a closed fist twice, effectively ending the male’s attempt to take control of the Taser. Ultimately, the male was secured in custody after additional officers arrived.
"The male arrested is Mr. Darian Belles, a 25-year-old Redmond-area resident. He was arrested on three counts of Interfering with a Peace Officer, three counts of Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, Attempted Assault on a Public Safety Officer, Attempted Unlawful Use of a Stun Gun in the Second Degree, and Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree.
"The officers primarily involved are identified as Officer Bryan Holman and Officer Chris Wooten. Neither officer was injured, and both have returned to work. Both officers involved had body cameras on and recorded the incident.
"It is never lawful to resist arrest. Officers have a lawful authority to enforce the laws and ordinances of Oregon and the City of Redmond. Officers will always use all of their training, experience, and tools available to them to take a resisting subject into custody."
"All use of force incidents are reviewed by Redmond Police command staff to ensure the response used was lawful and within policy. The review of this incident has just begun.
"All information will be sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review and a charging decision. Video of this incident will not be released by the Redmond Police Department at this time.
"The Redmond Police Department holds itself to the highest standards of law enforcement. We value the trust our community members place in us to keep our community safe," the statement concluded.