The Oregonian yesterday got a copy of the Harney County incident report involving Police Chief Larry O'Dea shooting his friend April 21, and it looks as bad for the chief as everyone thought it might.
In an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report—created just this Monday, on account of the incident being related to hunting—and an attached report from the Harney County Sheriff's Office, it's clear there's a strong suspicion O'Dea had been drinking when he mistakenly shot the 54-year-old victim, Eagle Creek resident Robert Dempsey.
And it shows that O'Dea and all of his camping compatriots—who'd been sitting in chairs and shooting at squirrels near Fields, Oregon that day—claimed no real knowledge of how Dempsey came to be shot in the back, though O'Dea would freely admit to being the shooter just four days later. And the entire party was apparently intoxicated enough a deputy warned them not to drive.
Still, authorities weren't able to glean enough information to tie O'Dea to the incident until speaking with Dempsey himself on May 14. Which is when they learned that O'Dea's gun has been "jamming, misfiring, and not feeding" all day long, according to the sheriff's office's incident report.
"Mr. Dempsey said Mr. O'Dea put his gun down and went to get something to drink," it says. "Mr. Dempsey said when Mr. O'Dea returned, he picked his gun back up and Mr. O'Dea accidentally shot him.... Mr. Dempsey informed me that his friend Mr. O'Dea called him after the incident and was very emotional and apologizing for shooting him." (Dempsey hadn't known who shot him until then.)
That's not the tone a glassy-eyed O'Dea had after the incident, which is the worst part of all this (for him). O'Dea told the deputy he'd gone to get a drink, and Dempsey suddenly "started moaning." O'Dea claimed it appeared Dempsey had "shot himself," the report shows.
It's a terrible look for a police chief who was selected for his ability to lead the police department in a new, more-accountable direction. And Mayor Charlie Hales the city's police commissioner, isn't going to address it, apparently.
"We haven’t received a report from the sheriff. Given that OSP, DOJ, IA and IPR [that's Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Justice, PPB Internal Affairs, and the city Independent Police Review] have open investigations, Mayor Hales will not be commenting until investigations are concluded," his spokesperson Sarah Hottman says.
Meanwhile, the police bureau's rank-and-file police union, the Portland Police Association, is holding its fire for now.
"So much information's coming in so quickly," says PPA President Daryl Turner. "It's like a water fall. We don't really want to jump the gun."
Here are some highlights from the sheriff's office report.