A Bend man is facing a hate crime charge for an alleged road-rage incident this summer in which he reportedly threatened the other driver, a Black man, with a knife, smashed out his car window, slashed his tire and used a racial slur against him.
Christopher Stephen King, 34, appeared in Deschutes County Circuit Court for the first time Tuesday. He’s facing five counts, including the felony of first-degree bias crime.
The state alleges that on June 29, King and the alleged victim, Isaiah McKinley Evans, were driving vehicles in Deschutes County when King became upset over Evans’ driving, according to District Attorney John Hummel. King allegedly struck Evans’ car with his and, after pulling over, approached him with a knife and threatened him using a racial slur. King allegedly smashed out a window and slashed one of Evans’ tires before driving off, Hummel said. He was contacted by Bend Police the next day.
The incident was investigated by Bend Police, and in August, a grand jury charged King with bias crime, unlawful use of a weapon, first-degree criminal mischief, failure to perform the duties of a driver and menacing. Evans, who has a Portland address listed with the court, testified before the grand jury, in addition to several local police officers.
A plea hearing in King’s case is scheduled for Nov. 16.
King has retained defense attorney Kelly Monaghan, a former prosecutor with the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office.
“We are respectfully declining to make any statements at this time,” Monaghan told The Bulletin. “Mr. King maintains his innocence and we will defend that position at trial.”
Hummel has charged bias crime 10 times since Oregon’s hate crime law was expanded by the state Legislature in 2018. The intent of the update was to rebrand the law and clarify the conduct that constitutes a hate crime in Oregon.
The change has made it easier to charge a hate crime as a felony, according to Hummel. Prior to the change, if a suspect acted alone, only a misdemeanor hate crime could be charged. Now, a felony hate crime can be charged when a suspect acts alone to commit a crime that is motivated in part by a perception of the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation or other identity categories.
There are currently seven open bias crime cases in Deschutes County. Two of those cases are suspended pending mental health review of the defendants. In another, defendant Jeremiah McBride, accused of using a racial slur against a delivery driver, remains on the run from the law with a warrant issued for his arrest.
There are no adults charged with bias crime in Crook or Jefferson counties, though there is a juvenile charged with bias crime in Crook County.