Former PPB chief indicted for hunting trip shooting

The shooting happened in April 2016

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

BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — A grand jury indicted former Portland Police Chief Lawrence P. O’Dea with one count of negligently wounding another months after he allegedly shot his friend during an off-duty hunting trip.

According to the indictment, first reported by the Willamette Week, on April 21 O’Dea “did unlawfully and by failing to use ordinary care under the circumstances wound Robert Dempsey with a bullet from a firearm.”

Negligent wound is a Class B misdemeanor.

“This was a camping accident, not a crime.  Bob Dempsey did not want to press charges against his friend.  We are going to withhold further comment until we have as much information about the investigation as The Oregonian does.” — Derek Ashton, attorney for Larry P. O’Dea III.

The case was initially investigated by the Harney County Sheriff’s Office but was then sent to Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Justice.

O’Dea eventually retired amid the criminal and internal investigations.

The indictment claims 12 people, including Dempsey, testified before a grand jury. Former PPB Assistant Chief Donna Henderson, current PPB spokesperson Sgt. Pete Simpson and Capt. Derek Rodrigues also provided testimony, the indictment shows.

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

Earlier KOIN 6 News reports revealed O’Dea “was visibly nervous and shaking” during his interview with a Harney County deputy after he accidentally shot his friend.

O’Dea smelled of alcohol and had “glassy, watery and bloodshot eyes,” according to an incident report out of Harney County.

Investigators determined the 53-year-old former police 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.”

The hunters had no cell service when Dempsey was shot. They administered first aid, put him in a pickup and drove to an area with cell service to call 911.

Many within the bureau criticized the way O’Dea and Mayor Charlie Hales handled the shooting. O’Dea told Hales about the shooting several days later, didn’t publicly disclose any information about it for a month. Federal justice officials have criticized Mayor Hales for failing to begin an immediate investigation.