The Portland Police Bureau Clears Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in Hit-and-Run

Hardesty “not a suspect,” police say.

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty attends a Portland demonstration on July 17, 2020. (Alex Wittwer)

The Portland Police Bureau announced this afternoon that Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has been cleared of any involvement in a hit-and-run crash that allegedly took place March 3.

The allegation that Hardesty was the driver who rear-ended another car and fled the scene started this morning on right-wing blogs, then was picked up by The Oregonian. In a statement, police said the person who called 911 about being rear-ended thought the driver was Hardesty.

Related: Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Denies Report Tying Her to March 3 Hit-and-Run

Here's PPB's statement:

An investigation into an alleged hit-and-run crash involving property damage has revealed that a Portland City Commissioner is not a suspect.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at about 11:24p.m., Portland Police responded to 13300 block of Southeast Stark Street on a report of a hit-and-run crash. The officer learned from the caller that her car had been rear-ended at about 4:48 p.m. near the intersection of Southeast 148th Avenue and East Burnside Street. The vehicle that allegedly struck the victim's car then left the scene without exchanging information as required by Oregon state statute 811.700-Failure to perform duties of driver when property is damaged. The caller believed the suspect was City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

The Portland Police Traffic Investigation Unit (TIU) began an investigation and have ruled out Commissioner Hardesty as a suspect in the case. The complainant and the Commissioner's office have both been notified.

But the PPB statement does not close the loop on an assertion from The Oregonian's original story this morning, which stated: "The driver gave police the license plate of the car that struck her."

It is unclear whether the driver did in fact give police a license plate number or whether that plate number was inaccurate.

WW and other media outlets have requested all records relating to the 911 call and any subsequent documentation, but the city has not yet released that information.

Meanwhile, Hardesty released a statement of her own Thursday evening, expressing indignation and posing a number of questions of her own:

Today began with an unnecessary burden put on my office to disprove a completely false accusation. Now the Portland Police Bureau has admitted what we knew all along – I was not involved in any way with any hit and run incident and am not a suspect.

While I am relieved to see the truth prevail, this incident brings up a number of urgent questions that I want answers to.

How did this false information get leaked to the Oregonian and fringe right wing media groups?

Why did the Oregonian run this story with no proof to substantiate the false allegation?

Will the 911 call and police report be released to myself and the media?

What was the relationship between the 911 call and the police report?

I'm demanding an investigation so we can get to the bottom of where this smear campaign originated.

I've always said that we can disagree without being disagreeable. This kind of personal attack, based on false accusations that were perpetuated by elements of the media, is hurtful. When I have made mistakes in the past, I have owned it, taken responsibility, and apologized. I hope those that brought this harm to me and my office today will feel compelled to do the same.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.