Ex-cop union head leaked false Hardesty news in retaliation

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – An internal investigation by the Portland Police Office confirmed that the former president of the police union leaked allegations against City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in retaliation for her criticism of officers.

A month-long internal affairs investigation into a Portland Police Bureau leak found that officers Brian Hunzeker, Kerri Ottoman and Ken Le disclosed the false information, according to an October disposition letter sent to Hardesty and obtained the Thursday by Oregon Public Broadcasting on a public records request. reported the media.

The letter, which both Hardesty and the city did not want published, publicly confirms the facts behind the leak after much speculation.

The letter is a summary of the findings of the internal affairs investigation into seven allegations against the officers involved. The investigation examined whether the leaks were racially motivated and if they were in retaliation for Hardesty’s outspoken criticism of the police.

The investigation found that Hunzeker, who was president of the union representing base officers at the time, disclosed the false allegations to The Oregonian / OregonLive and provided a journalist with a screenshot of a dispatch report stating that Hardesty had been involved in a traffic accident. .

Ottoman leaked the same information to Gabriel Johnson, director of the conservative Coalition to Save Portland PAC. The investigation also found that he disclosed the information to a friend from the Office of Emergency Communications who works as a dispatcher.

That same day, Hardesty was ruled out as a suspect in the accident. The actual driver was a woman living in Vancouver, Washington, police and prosecutors said.

The internal affairs letter confirms for the first time that Hunzeker leaked the information as an act of retaliation against Hardesty.

“There were many reasons why Officer Hunzeker cited as determining factors why he shared the information and one of those factors, he admits, was in response to Commissioner Hardesty’s false accusation that officers started fires during the civil unrest.” said Northern District Commander Kristina Jones wrote.

Hardesty had said that he did not believe protesters in Portland were setting fires in the city and that it was “police action.” Hardesty apologized for his remarks after a strong rejection.

The investigation did not find that race was a motivating factor for the leaks, according to the letter.

It was unclear what disciplinary action Hunzeker, Ottoman or Le might face, if any. The internal affairs investigation was presented to the city’s Police Review Board in October. Once the investigation is complete, that panel will forward the information to the chief, in consultation with Mayor Ted Wheeler, who serves as the city’s police commissioner.

Sergeant. Kevin Allen, a spokesman for the police bureau, said that despite the publication of the letter, the internal affairs investigation is ongoing.

“The letter of findings is simply a part of the process and the internal investigation has not concluded,” Allen said. The Oregonian / OregonLive. “The chief has stated that he is inclined, once a disciplinary decision has been made, to take the unusual step of releasing the results of the internal investigation of a city employee due to the unique circumstances of this case.”

Earlier this month, Hardesty filed a $ 5 million lawsuit against Hunzeker, Ottoman, the police union and the city.

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