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Portland Police Bureau Closed, and Then Reopened, Investigation Into Hit-and-Run Leak

In late July, PPB mailed a letter to Jo Ann Hardesty’s office at City Hall that said the investigation had concluded.

Nearly two months ago, the Portland Police Bureau concluded, and soon reopened, its investigation into the leak of information that falsely implicated Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in a March 3 hit-and-run crash.

On July 29, Capt. Chris Gjovik of PPB’s internal affairs division signed off on a letter addressed to Hardesty.

“This letter is to notify you the investigation of [the case] has been completed by Internal Affairs,” Gjovik wrote. “If there is any disagreement as to the findings, or in cases of serious misconduct, the case will be heard by a Police Review Board (PRB) to make a final recommendation to the Police Chief for findings and potential discipline.”

Gjovik added that it could take another two months—until late September—to finalize the findings and potential discipline.

“You will be notified by my office about the final outcome once the findings are rendered,” he wrote. “This process typically takes about one month. If PRB is required, this usually extends the process by one additional month.”

But shortly thereafter, WW has learned, the Police Bureau reopened the investigation. The reason, according to PPB: Four days after Gjovick signed the letter, Hardesty filed a tort claim notice on Aug. 2 against the city, outlining her intention to sue for the leak.

The tort claim notice alleges the city employees who leaked the false information violated Oregon’s public accommodations laws. It names one city employee—PPB Officer Brian Hunzeker—who resigned as president of the police union on March 16 for his unspecified role in the leak.

Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen says the internal affairs unit cannot immediately determine the exact date the investigation reopened.

“But it’s safe to say that it was shortly after the [tort claim notice] was filed,” Allen says. “I have been authorized to confirm that the reason it was reopened was the tort claim. It’s not unusual for [internal affairs] to look at litigation and open internal cases in response.”

Hardesty says PPB mailed the July 29 letter to her downtown office at City Hall, and that she did not see the letter until early September during an all-staff retreat. She says she is not aware of other attempts by the Police Bureau to notify her about the matter—and because much of Hardesty’s staff has been working remotely, they didn’t immediately notice the snail mail.

“My team, like most city employees, continues to primarily work remotely due to the ongoing pandemic,” Hardesty says. “This is the only communication I received from PPB with this information.”

The investigation is still ongoing. Allen says the Police Bureau has no further information to share about when it is expected to conclude.