DOJ releases details on shooting involving former Portland polic - KPTV - FOX 12

DOJ releases details on shooting involving former Portland police chief

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Former Portland Police Bureau Chief Larry O'Dea (KPTV file image) Former Portland Police Bureau Chief Larry O'Dea (KPTV file image)
Gun involved in shooting in Harney County in April. (Source: Oregon Department of Justice) Gun involved in shooting in Harney County in April. (Source: Oregon Department of Justice)
A medical helicopter responded to the scene of a shooting in Harney County in April 2016. (Source: Oregon Department of Justice) A medical helicopter responded to the scene of a shooting in Harney County in April 2016. (Source: Oregon Department of Justice)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Former Portland Police Bureau Chief Larry O'Dea called the aftermath of the shooting that injured his friend and led to O'Dea's retirement the biggest mistake he's ever made, according to new details released by the Oregon Department of Justice.

O'Dea was with friends in Harney County shooting at squirrels in April 2016. According to a law enforcement summary of the incident, 54-year-old Robert Dempsey was shot in the lower back and O'Dea told investigators it appeared his friend was trying to holster a pistol and accidentally shot himself.

O'Dea told a Department of Justice special agent that it wasn't until days later he realized his gun may have accidentally gone off.

"I'm speculating since the gun fired, the hammer likely was back, but I don't know that for sure," O'Dea told the agent.

New information released by the Department of Justice includes images of the gun, the wound and the medical helicopter that responded to the scene, as well as audio recordings of O'Dea's statements.

O'Dea said he explained the situation to then-Mayor Charlie Hales and told him an active investigation was underway and that he was waiting to hear back from Harney County deputies.

What he failed to do, he said, was inform Harney County investigators that he may have been responsible for the shooting. Before that happened, the story got out.

A Harney County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said O'Dea did not identify himself as the Portland Police Bureau chief or a law enforcement officer during the initial investigation. A Portland mayor's office spokesperson said the shooting was reported to city leaders April 25, four days after it happened.

The Portland Police Bureau first released information to the media about the incident on May 20, saying the shooting was the result of a "negligent discharge" from a .22 caliber rifle and O'Dea was "tremendously upset" about it.

Investigators said he is suspected to have been drinking when the shooting occurred.

O'Dea announced his retirement in June.

"It's just like, one accident, 30 years of service feels like it's out the window," O'Dea told a Department of Justice investigator.

While there were some contradictions in the various witness accounts, O'Dea said the situation was an accident, not a cover up.

O'Dea was indicted on a negligent wounding charge, but a Harney County judge agreed to a civil compromise in the case, leading to the dismissal of the charge.

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