PORTLAND, Ore. — A Harney County judge said Friday that he will dismiss a negligent wounding charge against Larry O’Dea, who resigned as Portland’s police chief last year after shooting a friend during an off-duty camping trip.
Judge William Cramer accepted a civil compromise in the case but said he will not sign off on it until O’Dea follows county policy and comes to the jail to be booked, fingerprinted and released.
O’Dea’s attorney, Derek Ashton, assured the judge his client will come to Burns next week, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported (https://is.gd/wtAn95 ).
O’Dea had been chief for little more than a year when he shot Robert Dempsey on April 21, 2016. O’Dea and Dempsey were part of a group of friends who take an annual camping trip. They were firing at squirrels in the remote Catlow Valley when Dempsey got hit in the back. He was airlifted to an Idaho hospital, where he was treated and released.
O’Dea didn’t identify himself as Portland’s police chief when Harney County deputies spoke with him, and he said it appeared Dempsey shot himself in a mishap. A deputy noted in his report that he smelled alcohol on O’Dea’s breath.
A few days after the incident, the chief informed then-Portland Mayor Charlie Hales that he had accidentally shot a friend. Harney County authorities, however, didn’t learn the truth until weeks later, when the victim finally spoke with an investigator.
The chief resigned in June as controversy swirled, mostly from the fact that he and Hales kept the incident secret for weeks.
Dempsey, who is not on the Portland police force, wrote in a statement to the court that he has been fully compensated for his injuries and did not want his friend prosecuted.
“Larry O’Dea was not intoxicated nor was he impaired by alcohol on April 21, 2016,” Dempsey’s statement said. “I have told the prosecuting attorneys this. I have also told the prosecuting attorneys that I do not want to be part of this prosecution.”
In agreeing to dismiss the charge, the judge said he was relying heavily on Dempsey’s statement, and O’Dea’s lack of a prior criminal record.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com