Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler pepper-sprayed a man who followed him last night from a McMenamins pub to his car, says a police report quickly released today after media questions.
On the evening of Jan. 24, as Wheeler met with former Mayor Sam Adams at McMenamins pub in Hillsdale, a middle-aged white man approached the 58-year-old, according to the Portland Police Bureau report. (Wheeler and Adams were likely discussing an impending job offer, which WW first reported this morning.)
The man, who was filming Wheeler, reportedly told him he photographed him while he ate, according to the police report. He then accused Wheeler of eating inside without a mask, the report says, and Wheeler responded that he was in an outdoor tent where maskless eating and dining were allowed.
"He followed me to my car while continuing to video. I attempted to get closer to my car and get into it," Wheeler said in the police report. "I believe that I had taken my face mask off as I attempted to enter the car, but I don't specifically remember. I clearly informed him that he needed to back off. He did not do so [so] I informed him that I was carrying pepper spray and that I would use it if he did not back off."
Wheeler then sprayed the man in the eyes, according to the report. As the man retreated, in an apparent state of surprise, "I threw a full water bottle towards him so that he could wash out his eyes with water," Wheeler said in the report.
The incident was witnessed by Adams, the former mayor of Portland who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2020.
Adams told police that as he walked to his own car, he saw the man with the camera follow Wheeler to his vehicle. After Wheeler pepper-sprayed the man, the man reportedly said aloud that there was "no reason" to have sprayed him.
"Actually you were really close," Adams responded back to the man, according to the report. Adams attempted to film the incident, but instead only captured the audio of the event, according to the police report. (The one-and-a-half-minute audio clip will be submitted as evidence.)
Update: Here's the tape.
After Wheeler threw the water bottle, the police report says, the current and former mayors departed from the pub.
Immediately after he left, the report says, Wheeler called his chief and deputy chief of staff to alert them of the situation, according to the report. By 9 pm, Wheeler's policy adviser on public safety, Robert King, called the Police Bureau to alert them of the incident, the report says.
The incident came to light after Alex Zielinksi, a reporter at The Portland Mercury, asked Wheeler during a Monday press conference if he had pepper-sprayed someone the night before.
The man's identity is currently unknown. Wheeler and Adams described him as being a white male in his 40s, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, wearing dark-colored clothing and glasses.