Former Portland police chief indicted for shooting friend

PORTLAND, Ore. – Former Portland police chief Larry O’Dea has been indicted for an April hunting incident.

O’Dea was charged with negligently wounding another, a misdemeanor charge. Oregon Department of Justice prosecutors brought the case before a grand jury, which returned the indictment Wednesday. The former chief faces up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted.

O’Dea shot a friend during a hunting trip in Harney County on April 21 and reportedly misled investigators before admitting to the incident.

He was placed on paid administrative leave on May 24 then retired in June, amid the investigation. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales named Capt. Mike Marshman as O’Dea’s replacement.   

Any proceedings will be held in Harney County, according to a spokeswoman for the DOJ. O’Dea’s arraignment and other court dates have not yet been set.

About the incident

On April 21, deputies were called to the Catlow Valley area about 80 miles south of Burns for a shooting, according to Harney County Sheriff's Lt. Brian Needham. The Oregonian/OregonLive first reported that a 54-year-old man was shot once in the back.

Needham confirmed O'Dea was the hunter who fired the shot that hit the man. Portland police said O'Dea was on vacation when he had a "negligent discharge" from his .22-caliber rifle that injured one of his close friends. Police say the wounded man was treated at a hospital and released.

On May 23, the Oregonian reported that O'Dea initially misled local investigators. The Harney County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that Sheriff Dave Ward, when initially briefed on the April 21 shooting, was told it was accidental and self-inflicted.

Ward said that O'Dea failed to identify himself as a police officer and that the chief "steered the deputy into believing the shooting was a self-inflicted accident."

Mayor Hales learned on April 25 that O'Dea accidentally shot his friend, according a spokeswoman.   

Harney County authorities learned nearly a month later that O'Dea was involved in the shooting when they interviewed the wounded man, the sheriff's office said.

After O’Dea’s retirement, his lawyer said O’Dea was not drinking and he did not purposely shoot anyone.   

"Larry O'Dea did not have alcohol on his breath nor was he impaired or intoxicated. He did not purposely point his gun at any person and did not knowingly discharge a firearm in the direction of his lifelong friend," attorney Derek Ashton said. "His thoughts and prayers have been with his friend from the moment the accident occurred. Larry has always placed the security, health and well-being of others above himself while focusing on the greater good for the citizens he served and the Portland Police Bureau. With those priorities in mind, he has decided to retire." 


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