Charlie Hales Learned of Accidental Shooting Involving Police Chief Nearly A Month Ago

Mayor, Harney County officials' silence differs from cases in which civilians or rank-and-file police are involved.

Accidental shootings happen often in Oregon and are frequently reported by local authorities.

Not, apparently, when it involves the chief of the Portland Police Bureau.

Chief Larry O'Dea accidentally shot a friend on a Harney County hunting trip on April 21. No mention was made for 29 days, until WW broke the story on May 20. Even so, officials have released little information, other than telling The Oregonian that the unnamed victim had to be flown to a hospital.

Neither Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward or Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan would comment.

"As this is an active criminal investigation being conducted by OSP and the Oregon DOJ, we have no further information responsive to your request at this time," Colahan said via email.

It is standard for law enforcement officials to decline to provide details about a pending criminal investigation.

What is highly unusual is to not share information about an accidental shooting, let alone one involving an officer of O'Dea's stature, in the first place.

WW learned that Mayor Charlie Hales has known about the shooting for more than three weeks, and also chose not to make the information public.

"Chief O'Dea first informed the mayor of the incident,'" Hales' spokeswoman Sara Hottman tells WW.

"The mayor was in Europe with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx until Sunday, April 24, so Chief O'Dea called him at 7 a.m. Monday, April 25."

Hottman says the decision not to make public disclosure of the shooting was normal.

"There are both internal and criminal investigations that occur without contacting media at the start," Hottman says. "This is standard in handling incidents such as the Chief's."

The criminal investigation now underway in the shooting is being overseen by the Oregon Department of Justice.

In most cases, Portland police officers under criminal investigation are placed on administrative leave. O'Dea, however, remains on duty. He declined to be interviewed.

It's not clear what if anything the rest of the police bureau knew about the shooting.

On Friday afternoon, when WW contacted Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson, Simpson said he was unaware of any shooting incident involving O'Dea. "First I've heard of it," Simpson said.

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