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Ex-Chief Covered Up Shooting

Independent review says former police chief lied to shift blame

11/7/2017, 3:57 p.m.
Independent Police Review says former Police Chief Larry O’Dea misled three assistant chiefs and then-Mayor Charlie Hales
Larry O'Dea

Former Police Chief Larry O’Dea was found to mislead three assistant chiefs and then-Mayor Charlie Hales about a camping trip in which O’Dea shot his friend, a new independent police review has found.

While police protocol calls for immediate notification to Portland’s Independent Review Division about for such mishaps, the report showed that O’Dea waited four days to tell his assistants and the mayor of the off-duty incident, which occurred in Harney County.

Though O’Dea had disclosed to assistant chiefs, internal affairs, and the mayor about the non-mortal wounding of his friend after returning from the trip, O’Dea lied to the Independent Police Review investigators and Harney County Deputies about the incident, saying his friend Robert Dempsey accidentally wounded himself.

In actuality, O’Dea and some friends were shooting at ground squirrels when he accidentally shot Dempsey in the back with a hollow point bullet, the fragments of which remained in Dempsey even after hospitalization.

O’Dea instructed three assistant chiefs and the mayor’s office to keep the incident quiet, and they cooperated, until investigations brought to light the details of the occurrence, officials determined.

O’Dea retired in late June 2016 amid the heat of Harney County investigations. Though a grand jury indicted O’Dea for negligently wounding his friend, charges were eventually dismissed by a Harney County judge as part of a civil compromise.

Derek Rodrigues, who at the time headed Police Internal Affairs and is currently captain of the Family Services Division, now faces two days suspension for not reporting his knowledge of the shooting to the Independent Review Division right away.