558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Police report sheds more light on Hooper case
Report provides first-hand account from members of law enforcement personnel
This photo shows several contents found in Curtis Hooper’s pockets during the police search before he was taken into custody. The items include a box-cutter knife, a folding pocketknife, a marijuana pipe, and a Bic shaving razor. The photo also includes two taser cartridges used on Hooper (left) and some attached taser wire.
November 15, 2012
When news first broke that Prineville resident Curtis Hooper was suing local law enforcement for police brutality and torture, one side of the story was left untold.
Hooper and his attorney Andrew Mathers willingly provided their version of the events that transpired on May 8, 2011 that prompted the lawsuit. However, City and County officials and law enforcement staff were advised not to comment on the case because it is pending litigation.
While that is the case, a report filed by Prineville police officers involved in the incident provides their version of the events. It includes an instance where Hooper held a razor knife to a person’s throat as well as several occasions where they claim he assaulted police officers as well as medical personnel at Pioneer Memorial Hospital.
Both officers also made a point in their report to note that they knew Hooper from past experiences as an unpredictable person whose behavior can quickly turn aggressive and violent
Based on the information provided in the report, Prineville police officer Tom Kurtz was contacted by Cassie Warner, an acquaintance of Hooper. She retold the events that took place before Kurtz or paramedics arrived.
“Cassie told me that Hooper told her he took 40 pills and was trying to kill himself,” Kurtz stated in the report. Warner then relayed to Kurtz that Hooper had laid on her couch and fallen asleep, and she was unable to wake him. Unsure what to do, she called her boyfriend, who then dialed 911.
Warner then told Officer Kurtz that while she waited for help to arrive, her neighbor Dennis Grant came over to help.
Warner said that Grant was hitting Hooper’s chest to try to wake him. When Hooper awoke, he held a razor knife to Grant’s throat.
“Cassie told me she had to stop Hooper from cutting Grant’s throat,” Kurtz said.
Mathers did not dispute whether or not Hooper held the razor knife to Grant’s throat, but did challenge whether doing so constitutes a crime.
“The other question on that was did the man attack Curtis,” Mather continued. “Was he (Hooper) justified if he did pull a box knife? Was he justified in defending himself?”
When Kurtz arrived on the scene, Hooper was keeping his left hand in his pocket, and appeared to be holding something, he observed, so he ordered Hooper to show him his hands. Having no success, he tried to remove Hooper’s hand from his pocket, and later took him to the ground and handcuffed him in order to search his coat pockets. Kurtz found a razor knife extended “with approximately three to five breakaway blades showing.”
Around that time, Prineville police sergeant Jimmy O’Daniel arrived, and began helping Officer Kurtz in his attempt to search Hooper for additional weapons. As they did so, Hooper struggled and tried to reach into his pockets. The struggle prompted O’Daniel to “drive stun” Hooper with his taser to get him to comply.
A police report filed by O’Daniel noted that it took several attempts before his taser gun worked on Hooper correctly.
“I pulled my taser and I tried to deliver taser darts into Hooper,” O’Daniel stated. “Neither dark penetrated to make contact with Hooper. Hooper’s clothing was too thick. I followed up that attempt with a drive stun to Hooper’s hip.”
Hooper initially complied, but as Sergeant O’Daniel tried to continue searching him, he began to fight back again and grabbed his duty belt.
“I delivered another drive stun to Hooper’s hip area,” he said.
In addition to the razor knife, the search of Hooper yielded such items as a folding pocket knife, a pink Bic shaver, and a marijuana pipe. Kurtz reported that he and O’Daniel also located an empty prescription bottle that according to medical personnel had been filled that day with 20 pills.
Kurtz reported that Hooper continued to fight back after he was placed in a patrol car, kicking the door window. O’Daniel then opened the door to “give him commands,” and Hooper kicked the lower section of the door, pushing it open “further than normal.”
“As I contacted Hooper, he began to kick me in my upper thigh area,” O’Daniel stated. He warned Hooper to stop kicking him, but he continued kicking O’Daniel.
“I grabbed my pepper spray and I delivered pepper spray to Hooper’s face giving him commands to stop as I delivered the spray,” he said.
Sergeant O’Daniel later reported that the kicking left several purple bruises on his legs.
Mathers said he has discussed the case with other law enforcement experts, and has concluded that the level of force was unnecessary. As far as he is concerned, there is no reason to taser or pepper spray a person in handcuffs.
O’Daniel reported that because the information Officer Kurtz gathered suggested that Hooper had attempted suicide, he was a danger to himself. Furthermore, “due to Hooper’s bizarre behavior” Kurtz and O’Daniel determined he was a danger to others. Consequently, they decided to take him to Pioneer Memorial Hospital.
Based on both of their reports, Hooper’s violent behavior continued at the hospital. They reported that Hooper spat on both law enforcement and medical personnel and continued to kick, grab, and pinch them as well. Sergeant O’Daniel reported that Hooper kicked one paramedic in the face.
After he was placed in four-point restraints, Hooper reached out and pinched the upper thigh of a registered nurse. The pinch left a purple bruise.
Mathers chose not to address nor dispute the reported harm inflicted on hospital staff.
O’Daniel went on to state that Hooper was able to remove his “spit hood” while in the restraints and “would try to spit bloody spit at anyone around him.”
To try to gain compliance, O’Daniel said he “tried digital finger locks” which seemed to work for a short time.
Mathers said he spoke with a law enforcement expert about that particular use of force.
“The conclusion was there is no reason to bend the fingers . . . when the man is in four-point restraints,” he said.
During another struggle, he tried to use a “toe lock” and tried to control the direction he was spitting with a “hair hold.”
In his report, O’Daniel determined that Hooper fought with law enforcement and medical staff from about 6:30 p.m. to about 3:50 a.m. He was fighting just as hard with them at the end as he was at the beginning.
In December 2011, Hooper was convicted of three crimes associated with the events of May 8 and 9. He pled No Contest to Aggravated Harassment, a Class C felony, Assaulting a Public Safety Officer, also a Class C felony, and Attempt to Assault a Public Safety Officer, which is a Class A Misdemeanor. Seven other counts, including Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Resisting Arrest were dismissed.
The police report regarding the Curtis Hooper case can be obtained at the Prineville Police Department for a fee, or can be viewed at the Central Oregonian office free of charge, however no copies of the document will be distributed.