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Portland Police Chief Placed On Leave During Shooting Investigation

Former Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea

Former Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea

Courtesy of the Portland Police Bureau

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has placed Police Chief Larry O’Dea on administrative leave over his role in an accidental shooting last month. Assistant Chief Donna Henderson will lead the bureau while O’Dea is on leave.

O’Dea accidentally shot his friend on a Harney County hunting trip on April 21.

The Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Justice, Portland Police Bureau, and Portland Independent Police Review are all investigating the incident.

The mayor’s decision came one day after Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said that O’Dea and others misled the deputy who responded to the incident. Ward says his deputy was originally told that the wound was self-inflicted.

“The deputy who had been conducting the investigation briefed me that based on witness statements it appeared to be a self-inflicted, accidental shooting,” said Ward. “Several folks stated it appeared that the person had been trying to re-holster a pistol into a shoulder holster.”  

The name of the victim has not been released. According to county dispatch records, he was shot in the lower back and airlifted to medical assistance from the scene of the shooting, near Fields.

The deputy on the incident made several attempts to speak to the victim in the days following the shooting, said Ward. When he finally spoke to the victim, the interview didn’t match up with witness statements the deputy had earlier recorded.

“Based on the interview with the victim, he found out there were conflicting statements, and we determined the incident needed to be further investigated,” said Ward. On the day he was briefed about the discrepancy by his staff, Ward requested the assistance of Oregon State Police.

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