Larry O’Dea told the Harney County, Oregon deputy the shooting was an accident.
He and his friends had been hunting on April 21 in Harney County, hundreds of miles from Portland, when one of them accidentally fired his rifle, injuring himself to the point that a helicopter had to airlift him to a hospital.
That was supposed to the end of it — just a hunting trip gone very wrong. But O’Dea left out and rearranged a few details.
Portland’s police chief placed on leave after allegedly shooting friend while hunting and claiming he shot himself: https://t.co/oUaL0erMU4
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) May 25, 2016
First, O’Dea didn’t mention his position as Portland’s police chief to local authorities.
Second, that story about the self-inflicted gunshot? Turns out O’Dea’s friend was shot in the back — by O’Dea.
Soon after the incident, O’Dea told Hales he was the one who shot his friend, the mayor said. But the two threads of this story took weeks to come together.
“If [O’Dea] called the mayor and said he had shot his friend, he should have called me as well,” Ward told The Oregonian. “He should have picked up the phone and called our office and said this is what happened.”
The mayor knew about the police chief’s involvement, while the sheriff’s department knew they had a hunting accident, but didn’t know the Portland police chief was involved until they talked with the shooting victim on May 16.
Oregon state police then stepped in to investigate the incident, along with the Oregon Department of Justice.
O’Dea could face criminal charges if his friend decides to pursue a case for assault or negligent wounding. Either way, the mounting coverage of O’Dea’s attempt at deception is already threatening to force him into a resignation.
Hales said in a statement that O’Dea has provided “excellent service” as police chief. The mayor is “awaiting the outcome of internal and external investigations” before commenting further.
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