Portland Chief O’Dea Retiring After Shooting Friend While Camping

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Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea has decided to retire, ending a nearly 30-year career amid criminal and internal investigations for an off-duty shooting of a friend during a camping trip, The Oregonian reports. Mayor Charlie Hales will appoint a captain, someone other than the four assistant chiefs under an administrative investigation themselves, to serve as interim chief until a successor is determined, likely after Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler takes office in January. O’Dea’s lawyer, Derek Ashton, said O’Dea “did not knowingly discharge a firearm in the direction of his lifelong friend.” O’Dea contends he was not intoxicated or impaired by alcohol at the time of the shooting, and  is confident the criminal investigation by the state police and Oregon Department of Justice will not result in charges and clear up “gross misstatements of facts contained in early reports,” his lawyer said.

O’Dea, 54, and the mayor kept the April 21 shooting out of the public eye for nearly a month, until reporters questioned the bureau about it in late May. On May 20, the chief acknowledged that he had a “negligent discharge” of his .22-caliber rifle and shot his friend. The friend, Robert Dempsey, wounded in the lower left back, was airlifted to a trauma hospital in Boise, Id., where he was treated and released.

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