By Maxine Bernstein
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales blamed "trial by media" as he announced Police Chief Larry O'Dea's retirement Monday, but he acknowledged that the fallout over O'Dea's off-duty shooting of a friend had caused "turmoil and confusion" that demanded a change in leadership.
"Chief O'Dea recognized the strain on the bureau and the need to move forward," Hales said.
O'Dea, 54, has been under criminal investigation for the April 21 shooting during a camping trip in eastern Oregon. O'Dea told the mayor about the shooting four days later, but they both kept it under wraps until reporters asked about it a month later.
The mayor named Capt. Mike Marshman as the new chief. He chose Marshman instead of acting Chief Donna Henderson or three assistant chiefs to ensure "clean and unquestioned leadership," Hales said.
He called Marshman the "right leader for the Portland Police Bureau right now," citing his deliberate and thoughtful thinking.
He approached Marshman on Thursday or Friday, and Marshman told the mayor he had to think about it.
"It's a hard community to police in," Marshman said moments before he was sworn in to the top job by the city auditor.
Hales remained a staunch supporter of O'Dea and wouldn't comment on the ongoing investigation by state police and the state Department of Justice.
"I'll continue to wait on passing judgment until I have all the facts," Hales said. "I'm sad to lose his service, and we should all be sad to lose his service."
The chief's and mayor's delay in publicly disclosing the shooting and the fact that O'Dea stayed on the job during that time without any internal inquiry angered rank-and-file officers, who complained of a double standard.
The mayor -- as well as Henderson, the other assistant chiefs and the internal affairs captain, who all heard about the shooting from O'Dea in late April -- never told the city's Independent Police Review Division about O'Dea's admission. The division conducts internal investigations of any officer who holds the captain's rank and higher.
The division director learned about the shooting through media reports on May 20 and then opened an internal review -- a routine step when an officer has a negligent or accidental discharge of their gun, on or off duty.
Hales said Monday during his news conference that he didn't notify the division "because I thought the official process was underway." He declined to elaborate even after pressed to explain his own role in the delay.
The review division also is now investigating Henderson, the assistant chiefs and the internal affairs captain, to find out why they didn't initiate a review.
O'Dea shot a friend, Robert Dempsey, in the lower left back while camping in Harney County. He and his friends, including two other retired Portland police tactical officers, were shooting ground squirrels, according to a deputy sheriff's report.
At first, O'Dea told a sheriff's deputy that it appeared Dempsey had shot himself while trying to return his pistol to a shoulder holster. O'Dea also told the deputy that he didn't have his rifle in his hands at the time of the shooting. He didn't identify himself as Portland's police chief.
Later, O'Dea called Dempsey to apologize for shooting him. Dempsey, after his release from the hospital, told the deputy that O'Dea had problems with his .22-caliber rifle misfiring and jamming all day. He said O'Dea had told him that when he returned to his seat and picked up the rifle, it went off, striking Dempsey, who was in a lawn chair next to him, according to the deputy's report.
O'Dea never told the Harney County Sheriff's Office that he was responsible for the shooting, Sheriff Dave Ward has said.
O'Dea's lawyer Derek Ashton said he's confident O'Dea won't face criminal charges. O'Dea didn't knowingly shoot his friend and was unaware at first that the shot came from his rifle, Ashton said. O'Dea also disputes the deputy's report that he was impaired by alcohol at the time.
The mayor said O'Dea's resignation was voluntary. Hales was out of town at a U.S. Conference of Mayors meetings this weekend, and negotiations for O'Dea's resignation continued through the weekend. The assistant chiefs had no idea of the command shake-up until they received calls from the mayor early Sunday evening.
O'Dea's retirement took effect Monday, with an annual pension of $170,792.16 -- 87 percent of his final annual salary of $197,146.08, according to the Portland Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund. He had 29.82 years of service, and a tax-remedy benefit of $547 a month was added, said the fund's director, Samuel Hutchison. He started as chief in January 2015 with an annual salary of $192,504.
Marshman, 50, has most recently served as the bureau's federal justice compliance coordinator, responsible for ensuring the bureau adopts reforms required under its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement stems from a 2012 federal investigation that found Portland police used excessive force against people with mental illness.
Marshman, a 25-year bureau veteran, cited his three goals as chief: to build community trust, restore legitimacy within the bureau and focus on the federal-mandated reforms. He also will be working to fill the estimated 65 vacancies in the bureau.
"Those three goals I expect every member of the Police Bureau to know," he said.
"Police work in 2016 cannot be accomplished in a vacuum," Marshman said. "We must participate and engage with the entire community to solve problems, and that means being partners and allies, not just authority figures."
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales announces Larry O'Dea's retirement, takes swipe at media
Marshman lives in Scappoose with his wife and joined the Police Bureau on April 25, 1991 after working two years for the San Diego Police Department. He's served as public information officer, a lieutenant in Central Precinct and as former Chief Mike Reese's executive assistant. He obtained a bachelor's degree from Portland State University in 1987.
Oregon's U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said he supports the change and is hopeful Marshman will build trust in the community. "The standards of the Portland Police Bureau will be a direct reflection of its new leader," Williams said.
Multnomah County Circuit Court's Presiding Judge Nan Waller also spoke on Marhsman's behalf. "Capt. Marshman's experience as the Department of Justice coordinator has provided him with a clear understanding that good policing requires a foundation of public confidence, built through community engagement and mutual respect."
The mayor's news conference started in City Hall's third-floor hallway, but was disrupted when local activist Joe Walsh began playing a recording from a small loudspeaker as the mayor spoke that blared, "How much did you know? When were you told?"
Hales and his staff then moved into the conference room inside the mayor's office.
Marshman won endorsement from the police union and Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler, who said he supports the new chief but still plans a national search when he takes office next year.
Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, said "a dark cloud has been lifted from over the Portland Police Bureau with the much needed departure of Larry O'Dea." The union represents officers, detectives and sergeants.
"We are at a critical crossroad. Although we're still angry and in disbelief by the deep wounds inflicted on our organization by the outgoing chief, we are optimistic that we can work collaboratively with Chief Marshman to rebuild this Police Bureau," Turner said in a statement.
Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler said he supported Marshman's selection but still intends to conduct a national search for the job once he takes office. Marshman is welcome to apply as a contender for the job, he said in a statement.
(c)2016 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)