PPB Chief O’Dea had ‘bloodshot eyes’ after shooting

Larry O'Dea told investigators the victim accidentally shot himself

Former PPB Chief Larry O'Dea in a file photo.
Former PPB Chief Larry O'Dea in a file photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea “was visibly nervous and shaking” during his interview with a Harney County deputy after he accidentally shot a friend during a hunting trip

O’Dea smelled of alcohol and had “glassy, watery and bloodshot eyes,” the Harney County incident report states.

KOIN 6 News obtained the report from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

The 53-year-old chief was hunting in the Catlow valley area on April 21 with 6 friends. The Harney County report said they were all “sitting in lawn chairs in a line and shooting at sage rats out in front of them.”

Larry O'Dea was named Portland Police Bureau Chief on Oct. 7, 2014 (PPB)
Larry O’Dea was named Portland Police Bureau Chief on Oct. 7, 2014 (PPB)

When Robert Dempsey was shot, the hunters had no cell service. O’Dea and the others administered first aid, put him in a pickup, drove to where their cell phones would work and called 911.

The deputy interviewed each of the hunters individually and then as a group, and each painted a similar picture. O’Dea was sitting on Dempsey’s left when the shooting happened.

“Mr. Dempsey informed me that his friend Mr. O’Dea called him after the incident and was very emotional and apologizing for shooting him” — Harney County incident summary

O’Dea said he stood up, put his gun on his chair and opened a drink, then heard Dempsey groan.

“Mr. O’Dea said he turned around and that is when he witnessed Bob with an empty shoulder holster and Bob was holding his left side while sitting in his chair. … Mr. O’Dea said it appeared to him that maybe Bob was trying to holster a pistol and accidentally shot himself. …”

The deputy later contacted Dempsey after he was released from the hospital the next day. But it wasn’t until May 14 that Dempsey spoke with the Harney County authorities.

On that day, “Mr. Dempsey informed me that Mr. O’Dea had been having trouble with his gun throughout the day with jamming, misfiring and not feeding. … (O’Dea) 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. … Mr. Dempsey said that Mr. O’Dea talked with his bosses and told them about the incident. Mr. Dempsey did not elaborate on who the bosses were…”

The deputy told his supervisors about Dempsey’s statement and the Oregon State Police were asked to help with the investigation. The investigation was then taken over by the Oregon Department of Justice. The Portland Independent Police Review has also opened an investigation into O’Dea.

Earlier this week, O’Dea was placed on paid leave during the investigation. O’Dea has not made any public comment about the incident.

Assistant Chief of Police Donna Henderson was named to replace O’Dea during the investigation.

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