- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The former Portland police chief who resigned after he was indicted for shooting a friend during an off-duty trip is challenging the negligent wounding charge as unconstitutionally vague.

Former chief Larry O’Dea’s lawyer Derek Ashton appeared on behalf of O’Dea in an eastern Oregon court Friday, which was the day set for O’Dea’s arraignment, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported (https://goo.gl/xuFbHy).

Instead of the arraignment, Ashton filed a legal challenge, arguing the negligent wounding statute is too open-ended and that pretrial evidence doesn’t explain how O’Dea allegedly acted negligently or failed to use “ordinary care under the circumstances” as the language of the statute sets out.

The 54-year-old former chief is accused of failing to use ordinary care in the shooting of Robert Dempsey April 21. The men were camping in Harney County and shooting at ground squirrels when O’Dea shot Dempsey in the back, reports said.

Dempsey was flown to a Boise hospital, where he was treated and released, according to authorities.

Circuit Judge William D. Cramer Jr. said he had expected O’Dea to be present for his arraignment but accepted Ashton standing in for the defendant as long as O’Dea visits Harney County at least once to be booked and fingerprinted.

O’Dea’s challenge follows notices he sent in November to Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, Harney County Deputy Sheriff Chris Nisbett, Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Justice of his intention to sue, claiming they were responsible for “releasing false and defamatory statements to members of the media concerning Mr. O’Dea.”

O’Dea and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as police commissioner, kept the shooting out of the public eye for nearly a month until reporters questioned police about it in May.

On May 20, O’Dea acknowledged that he had a “negligent discharge” of his rifle and shot his friend.

When a Harney County deputy responded to a 911 call after the shooting, O’Dea suggested the shooting had been self-inflicted, according to sheriff’s reports. A deputy who interviewed O’Dea at the scene wrote in a report that he smelled of alcohol. O’Dea has denied being intoxicated. O’Dea also didn’t identify himself as Portland’s police chief when deputies spoke with him.

The judge gave the state until Dec. 11 to reply to O’Dea’s legal challenge of the indictment.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, https://www.oregonlive.com

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