Kennewick — A downtown Kennewick club manager was sentenced today to 12 months in jail for dropping an intoxicated customer on his head on the sidewalk, causing lasting brain trauma.
Matthew Thomas Hibbard, 41, was convicted in late January by a Benton County jury of third-degree assault.
The charge which involved criminal negligence included the aggravating circumstance that Hibbard caused substantial bodily harm.
He said he never intended to hurt the customer, Ben Ensign, and was sick to his stomach when he later learned the severity of his injuries.
Hibbard was general manager in charge of security at Jack Didley's on July 4 when Ensign came iin with friends after watching the fireworks.
Ensign twice was asked to leave the club because of his behavior. He was running back to the front door to go inside when Hibbard grabbed him from behind and walked him across the sidewalk.
Hibbard said in trial testimony he didn't know another bouncer was holding up Ensign's feet, while he had his arms around Ensign's neck and chest.
He released his grasp and backed off to protect himself because he believed Ensign was going to hit him.
It is estimated that Ensign fell about 4 1/2 to 5 feet to the ground.
Defense attorney John Jensen asked that his client serve the time on work release.
Judge Vic VanderSchoor said some time in jail is appropriate, so said Hibbard must serve 19 days of straight time. The remaining 345 days can be done on work release.
For more on the story, read Saturday's Herald and tricityherald.com.