More answers surfacing in Ben Ensign assault case

TRI CITIES -- There have been countless questions since day one about exactly what happened Fourth of July night outside Jack Didley's. So KEPR went looking for answers.

Club bouncer Matthew Hibbard, 41, is charged with 3rd degree felony assault, with aggravating circumstances.

In the meantime, Ben Ensign remains hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury, after he was violently kicked out of the bar by security staff.

But with the extent of Ensign's injuries, many have asked why Hibbard isn't facing 1st degree assault charges.

Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller says 1st degree would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hibbard "intended" to inflict great bodily harm. While 3rd degree only requires that someone was injured "as a result" of another person's actions.

But adding the aggravating circumstances does allow for much harsher penalties, if Hibbard is convicted. He could be eligible for up to five years behind bars.

Charging documents also show that two bouncers picked Ensign up that night. The papers say Hibbard grabbed Ensign by the neck, and another bouncer held him by the feet. Kennewick police decided not to pursue charges against the second employee, believing he had no idea Hibbard would drop Ensign on his head, until it was too late.

And finally, many of you have asked why Jack Didley's isn't being held liable? Did the club over-serve Ben? KEPR learned criminal charges don't exist for that. The same goes for training security staff and bouncers on use of force.

But there are laws that can create civil liability. Ben's family tells Action News they are still looking into that possibility.

Hibbard is scheduled for arraignment August 9th.