OR Police Chief ‘Accidentally’ Shot Camping Buddy, Then Lied About It

Portland, Oregon Police Chief Larry O’Dea is expected to step down on Monday. O’Dea’s anticipated resignation comes in response to public outrage over a shooting that occurred during a camping trip in April.

According to the Los Angeles Times, O’Dea and a group of friends were drinking beer and shooting at sage rats during the spring camping trip, when one of the men, 54-year-old Robert Dempsey, was shot in the back.

When interviewed by deputies, Chief O’Dea insisted he had nothing to do with the shooting. His story was that his camping buddy had somehow accidentally shot himself in the back.

The Oregonian reports:

O’Dea told the Harney County deputy that his friend may have accidentally shot himself while putting his pistol in his shoulder holster while they were shooting ground squirrels, sheriff’s reports show.

The deputy reported smelling alcohol on O’Dea’s breath, his report said. O’Dea had told the deputy he didn’t have his rifle in his hand at the time, but was reaching for a drink out of a cooler and heard his friend scream.

Later however, O’Dea called Dempsey to apologize for shooting him.

Dempsey reported the police chief’s call to deputies in charge of the investigation.

According to the Oregonian, the Mayor and Police Chief kept the story from the public until late May, when reporters began asking questions.

On May 20, nearly a month after the shooting, O’Dea finally admitted that he had a ‘negligent discharge’ of his firearm.

Aside from the police chief, at least four assistant police chiefs are accused of helping to conceal what really happened the day Dempsey was shot. Those four law enforcement officers are also under investigation for not taking internal action.

The Harney County Sheriff’s Department have taken over the criminal investigation. The shooting is also being investigated by the Oregon State Police and the state Department of Justice.

O’Dea is a thirty year veteran of the police force. I’m sure he has had years of training on gun safety and completed numerous courses on how to be a “responsible gun owner.” Yet he still shot another man in the back “accidentally.”

Thankfully, the victim of the police chief’s careless, potentially illegal behavior wasn’t killed by the bullet that struck him.

Since all four assistant police chiefs are under investigation, it’s unknown at this time who will be appointed to take O’Dea’s place.


Image credit: Portland Police Department