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Alcohol Use A Factor When Portland Police Chief Accidentally Shot Friend


Alcohol use, careless handling of a gun and faulty equipment were factors that led Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea to accidentally shoot a friend last month, according to a report written by the deputy who responded to the scene.

The report was released by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which tracks hunting related accidents.

The deputy’s report includes detailed accounts of interviews he recorded with O’Dea and the other witnesses. He spoke to the men in Fields, Oregon, where they’d driven for cell service to get the victim, Robert Dempsey, medical attention. 

O’Dea and six friends were in the southeast Oregon desert, siting in lawn chairs in a line and shooting at ground squirrels when the accident happened.

The Harney County deputy noted that several of the men smelled of alcohol and had glassy, watery and bloodshot eyes.

O’Dea was nervous, shaking, and had alcohol on his breath while he he gave his statement, according to the report. He told the deputy that he’d been sitting directly to Dempsey’s left, and had gotten up to get a drink when he heard Dempsey groaning. He said his friend was trying to holster a pistol and accidentally shot himself.

When the deputy interviewed Dempsey several weeks later, the victim said O’Dea had been having trouble with his gun jamming and misfiring during the day. Dempsey said he didn’t see what happened.

But after the accident, O’Dea called him to apologize. O’Dea said he set down his gun and went to get a drink. When he picked the gun back up, he shot Dempsey.

O’Dea is on administrative leave while the city of Portland and the Oregon State Police investigate the incident.

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