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Mayor wants ex-police union head to tell whole truth now

March 18, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is not content to let an investigation into the former president of the city’s police union proceed with the usual due process afforded to rank-and-file members of the city’s police force.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Portland Police Association President Brian Hunzeker acknowledged in a statement released by the union Tuesday that he committed a “serious, isolated mistake” in connection to a leaked report that wrongly identified Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty as the suspect of a hit-and run crash.

His resignation announcement did not describe his misstep.

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“If he wants to live up to his word, he can just do it,” mayoral spokesman Jim Middaugh said of Hunzeker Wednesday. “He can truncate the investigative process by just telling the whole truth now.”

Wheeler also serves as the city’s police commissioner.

Former police union president Daryl Turner, who has stepped back into the role temporarily, cited longstanding police contract protections that allow accused officers to stay silent and require extended due process.

“As we all know there’s an investigation already in progress and part of the investigative process is to be able to give everyone a fair and equitable chance by investigators to give their side of the story,” Turner said late Tuesday.

Angela Orr, a police union spokeswoman, declined additional comment Wednesday.

Hunzeker joined the Portland police in July 2000 and became union president last fall. Police said he would be returned to an assignment within the force.

Lt. Greg Pashley, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman, said Wednesday he did not have information about Hunzeker’s new assignment.

Chief Chuck Lovell, who returned from a nine-day work trip after the union president’s resignation, said his agency needs the public to believe in its fairness and reliability.

“Any allegation of misconduct can erode trust,” Lovell said Wednesday in his first public statement.

Wheeler had previously expressed anger over the speed and recklessness with which the faulty accusations against Hardesty were made public and Hunzeker’s evasive explanation of his actions.

The mayor has also called for an independent investigation into the apparent leak, which could expand into a wider probe of potential political and racial bias within the bureau.

Police soon after cleared Hardesty in a March 3 case in which a rear-ended motorist mistakenly asserted the commissioner was the driver who struck her car and left the scene of the collision.