Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea retired from his position on Monday as the probe continues into his alleged misleading of investigators in a shooting earlier this year, the Guardian reported.
Outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales criticized coverage of the incident while announcing O’Dea’s retirement at a press conference.
“I’ve been very disappointed by the trial by media,” Hales said. “I would ask you to be as energetic in clearing his name as you have been in smearing it.”
O’Dea initially said that a friend shot and injured himself during a hunting trip in Harney County, about 350 miles away from the city.
But officials did not discover that O’Dea shot the man until they interviewed the victim, prompting Hales to place O’Dea on administrative leave last month. His lawyer, Derek Ashton, has insisted that O’Dea was not drunk at the time of the shooting.
“He did not purposely point his gun at any person and did not knowingly discharge a firearm in the direction of his lifelong friend,” Ashton said in a statement. “His thoughts and prayers have been with his friend from the moment the accident occurred.”
Captain Mike Marshman was announced as O’Dea’s interim successor. KGW-TV reported that the position would be filled permanently after January, when Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler takes office.
But activists criticized the decision to let O’Dea retire in the midst of the investigation.
“He needs to be fired or suspended,” said Teressa Raiford, who is a lead organizer with Don’t Shoot Portland. “He’s getting all of the accolades and benefits that would be given to a professional officer who has had a lot of successes. He’s not leaving under successful terms. He’s leaving under investigation.”