PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Overruling precedent, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office released detailed information about false information leaked to the media linking Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to a hit-and-run in March.
The lengthy PPB Internal Affairs investigation found Officer Brian Hunzeker — who was, at the time, the president of the Portland Police Association — and 2 other officers responsible for leaking the falsehoods implicating Hardesty, documents obtained by KOIN 6 News reveal.
The other officers involved are Kerri Ottoman and Ken Le, documents show.
Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt’s opinion
PPB letter to Jo Ann Hardesty, October 21
City Auditor letter to Jo Ann Hardesty, October 26
DA Mike Schmidt’s office said the reason they opted to igore precedent of not providing details in an ongoing investigation was because 10 months had passed since the incident and “PPB’s disciplinary process has not concluded and no official information has been released regarding its substance.”
Details and timeline
The victim in a hit-and-run in Portland on March 3, 2021 said Hardesty was the driver who fled the scene. Within 12 hours, numerous media outlets — including KOIN — reported this information. But Hardesty steadfastly denied involvement and within hours PPB publicly confirmed she had nothing to do with that hit-and-run crash.
Hunzeker resigned as PPA president on March 16.
Documents obtained by KOIN 6 News show Hunzeker leaked the information to the media “in retaliation” against Hardesty for negative comments and accusations about PPB officers.
This document, an October letter from PPB officials to Hardesty, said, in part, “There were many reasons Officer Hunzeker cited as the driving factors for why he shared the information and one of those factors, he admits, was in response to Commissioner Hardesty’s false allegation about officers setting fires during the civil unrest.”
The letter shows Le and Ottoman also leaked the information — Le to an off-duty BOEC dispatcher and Ottoman to a friend of hers in the community.
But the letter also said Hardesty’s race was not a factor in the leak by Hunzeker, Le and Ottoman.
Five days later, the Portland City Auditor’s Office sent a letter to Hardesty that outlined the findings of the investigation and her potential next steps.
In August, Hardesty announced she would sue over the incident. Then in early December, Hardesty filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Portland police union, Hunzeker and Ottoman over the leak.
According to court documents obtained by KOIN 6 News, the lawsuit seeks $3 million from the Portland Police Association and $1 million each from the union’s former president, Brian Hunzeker, and Police Bureau officer Kerri Ottoman.