Local News

Uber Driver Kidnapping Case Dismissed

BEND, OR -- The case against a Bend Uber driver charged with kidnapping has been dismissed. Police arrested 48-year-old Rocky Heath after a 19-year-old woman reported that she ordered a ride home February 13th; but instead of her destination, she said Heath drove her around for about half an hour. 

Deschutes County District Attorney Steve Gunnels says evidence was presented to the Grand Jury earlier this month, "Other witnesses testified, police officers testified, for example, about what they found. However, based on all of that, the Grand Jury determined that there wasn’t sufficient evidence; there wasn’t proof beyond a reasonable doubt." Without a Grand Jury indictment, charges were dropped. "From our point of view, the evidence was insufficient to sustain prosecution, which means that there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Heath committed a crime." Grand Jury proceedings are not open to the public and records are not available to the media. 

Gunnels believes the process worked as intended, "If the evidence isn’t strong enough, the Grand Jury is required to decline to let the case move forward. And in this case, the Grand Jury has independent judgment about the merits of a case. They heard the evidence in this case and they determined the evidence wasn’t sufficient." He says Heath could be charged again if new evidence comes to light. 

"People need to be aware of their surroundings and pay attention. And make sure that if they tell the cab driver or Uber driver or Lyft driver to go to a particular place, that that’s a route they start to take," Gunnels tells KBND News, "Be diligent about that. But these things are very unusual. I, myself have taken taxis and Ubers many times, depending on circumstances, and nothing odd has ever happened. That’s the norm."

At the time of his arrest, Uber said Heath’s privileges with the company were suspended pending their own investigation. KBND News asked Uber if he’s been reinstated as a driver but has not received a response. 

UPDATE: According to Uber, the company has concluded its investigation and Heath remains deactived as a driver. He can appeal. Uber released this statement to KBND News: "Removing a driver’s access to the Uber platform is a serious decision, and we do not take it lightly. We conducted our investigation and have taken appropriate action."

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