Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea Lied to Investigators About Shooting Friend

Former Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea brought discredit to the city, delayed reporting his April 2016 off-duty shooting of a friend and then lied to Independent Police Review investigators about the incident while he was still chief, an investigation found.

But the city’s human resources director decided not to sustain an allegation that O’Dea “improperly directed or suggested” his assistant chiefs keep quiet about the shooting outside of the chief’s office after he told them about it.

Mayor Ted Wheeler sent O’Dea a two-page letter outlining the conclusions of the investigation into the handling of the shooting and a separate investigation into allegations that O’Dea failed to report a discrimination complaint.

The second city inquiry found O’Dea failed to report alleged discriminatory remarks made by the Police Bureau’s diversity manager to an administrative assistant working in the chief’s office and then lied about what he knew to investigators.

“If you were still employed by the Police Bureau, I would terminate you,” Wheeler wrote in the July 6 letter.

The Portland Mercury first reported on the letter Wednesday morning.

O’Dea’s lawyer Derek Ashton said Wednesday he wasn’t able to immediately respond.

O’Dea retired in late June 2016 as he was under criminal investigation.

A grand jury indicted him on a negligent wounding charge, but a Harney County judge agreed to a civil compromise that allowed the charge against O’Dea to be dismissed.

O’Dea shot his friend, Robert Dempsey, while camping and hunting squirrels in the Catlow Valley area of Harney County. The hollow-point bullet hit Dempsey in the lower back and fragmented. Dempsey was released from the hospital the next day, the bullet still lodged in his body.

Four days later, O’Dea told his then-boss, Mayor Charlie Hales, about the shooting. Around the same time, O’Dea also told the police captain of internal affairs and his four assistant chiefs.

But no one alerted the city’s Independent Police Review Division, which conducts all internal investigations of high-ranking Police Bureau members. The review division director first learned of the shooting when reading news reports about it a month later.

In October, the U.S. Department of Justice cited Hales’ failure to seek an immediate investigation of O’Dea’s off-duty shooting as an example of the city’s and Police Bureau’s continuing struggle to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, which certifies police in the state, opened up a case to review O’Dea’s police certification after it learned of the shooting and the criminal investigation.

That review remains ongoing, said Eriks Gablicks, director of the state public safety agency. The agency is awaiting the city’s independent review of the shooting aftermath.

A state report of the shooting shows key contradictions in former Police Chief Larry O’Dea’s version of what happened last April when he and seven other friends went to southeastern Oregon and sat in a row of lawn chairs on the high desert shooting at ground squirrels.

In the other investigation done by the city, O’Dea was found to have failed to report possible misconduct to the city’s Bureau of Human Resources that stemmed from alleged comments made by the Police Bureau’s equity manager Elle Weatheroy to a bureau administrative assistant.

O’Dea was found to have been “untruthful in his interview with (the Human Resources Bureau) and Internal Affairs about his knowledge of possible misconduct” in the case, according to the mayor’s letter.

The administrative assistant had reported to O’Dea last year that Weatheroy made harassing and inappropriate remarks to her, according to several sources familiar with the review. The assistant is of Pacific Islander descent. Weatheroy is African American.

The administrative assistant said Weatheroy, for example, had questioned why she was married to a white man, the sources said. After asking O’Dea to address her complaint and no investigation resulted, she wrote a memo to the Human Resources Bureau.

Source: http://www.oregonlive.com

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Filming Cops
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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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