Police Union President Leaked Hardesty Hit-and-Run Allegation in Retaliation for Her Claims About Police Setting Fires, Internal Investigation Finds

The investigation found that three PPB officers violated bureau policy or procedure.

Dumpster fire extinguished Portland firefighters and police extinguish a dumpster fire at the Multnomah County Justice Center on May 25. (Justin Yau) (Justin Yau)

Exactly 300 days after the Portland Police Bureau initiated an internal affairs investigation into the leak of information that falsely implicated Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in a March 3 hit-and-run crash, the City Attorney’s Office released a letter from October that summarized the investigation’s findings.

The letter’s contents appear to correspond closely with allegations Hardesty made in a $5 million lawsuit she filed earlier this month against the police union, the Portland Police Association, its former president Officer Brian Hunzeker and another Police Bureau officer, Kerri Ottoman.

The Oct. 21 letter, addressed to Hardesty and written by Scott Konczal of the internal affairs professional standards division, names three PPB officers: Ottoman, Hunzeker and Ken Le, who has not yet been publicly named in relation to the case. Oregon Public Broadcasting first reported the letter.

Konczal wrote to Hardesty that internal affairs investigated the following seven allegations against the officers:

  1. Officer Brian Hunzeker disseminated confidential information to the media.
  2. Officer Brian Hunzeker disseminated confidential information to the media in retaliation for you speaking negatively about Portland Police Bureau Officers.
  3. Officer Kerri Ottoman disseminated confidential information to the media.
  4. Officer Ken Le inappropriately disseminated confidential information.
  5. Officer Brian Hunzeker disseminated confidential information involving you because of your race.
  6. Officer Kerri Ottoman disseminated confidential information involving you because of your race.
  7. Officer Ken Le disseminated confidential information involving you because of your race.

North Precinct Captain Kristina Jones sustained the first four allegations, but not the remaining three. As for the first two allegations against Hunzeker, Jones wrote the following:

“Officer Hunzeker acknowledged sharing information about an on-going criminal investigation to a member of the media in a phone conversation he initiated, then later by providing a screen shot of the [computer-aided dispatch] call to the reporter, which he admitted was a violation of this directive,” she wrote.

Hardesty’s lawsuit alleges that Hunzeker leaked the information to The Oregonian. The letter does not name which news outlet Hunzeker contacted.

Jones added that Hunzeker cited “many reasons” for sharing the information with the reporter, including a false allegation Hardesty made in July 2020 in which she accused Police Bureau officers of setting fires at protests. (Hardesty later retracted the claim and apologized.)

Jones sustained those two allegations against Hunzeker, which means a “preponderance of evidence proves a violation of policy or procedure” occurred, according to the letter.

Jones also sustained the allegation that Ottoman disseminated confidential information to Gabriel Johnson, co-founder of the Coalition to Save Portland political action committee.

“Officer Ottoman admitted to releasing a screen shot of a CAD call and providing this information to her friend, a community member which violates policy,” Jones wrote. However, Jones noted, Ottoman did not share the information due to Hardesty’s race. Rather, she disseminated the information to Johnson “primarily because she was venting with a friend,” Jones wrote.

Finally, Jones sustained the allegation that Officer Ken Le disseminated confidential information to a dispatcher with the Bureau of Emergency Communications.

“Officer Le admitted to releasing a screen shot of a CAD call and providing this information to his friend, a BOEC dispatcher who was off-duty, which violates the policy,” Jones wrote.

Interestingly, Le was one of the officers tasked with investigating the hit-and-run itself in the hours following the initial 911 report. According to police reports, in the hours before Hardesty was officially cleared as a suspect, Le looked up Hardesty’s license plate number in the law enforcement database system and then went looking for her car near her home in the Gateway neighborhood.

Jones determined that the final three allegations—that the police officers disseminated the confidential information because of Hardesty’s race—were not sustained.

“There were many reasons Officer Hunzeker cited as the driving factors for why he shared the information and there is no evidence to support that any of those factors were related to race as a motive,” Jones wrote. “Officer Le said in his IA interview on August 19th that the race of Jo Ann Hardesty was not the reason he chose to share a screenshot of the CAD call with an acquaintance who works at BOEC.”

The letter was generated from a hearing before the Police Review Board, which is tasked with assessing the findings of the internal affairs investigation.

Shortly after the PRB hearing, both WW and Oregon Public Broadcasting requested a copy of the letter. The city denied the requests, citing the pending investigation. OPB appealed the city’s denial to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, which on Wednesday ordered the city to release the letter, according to OPB’s report.

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