PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A lawyer who Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler hit with pepper spray after the man aggressively confronted him on Sunday has released a statement expressing remorse.
“I am remorseful for my decision to confront Mayor Wheeler on Sunday, Jan. 24, and I am sorry he felt the need to use pepper spray,” Cary Cadonau, 48, said in the statement.
According to police, Wheeler pepper-sprayed Cadonau after the lawyer videotaped him and a former mayor leaving a restaurant.
Wheeler and Sam Adams, who served as Portland mayor from 2009 to 2013, had been eating in a tented area and were walking to their cars when Cadonau approached, unmasked, and got close to the mayor’s face while filming with his phone, according to a police report. Wheeler told police the man accused him of dining without wearing a mask.
Wheeler said he became concerned for his safety and contracting COVID-19. Wheeler told the man to “back off” and that he was carrying pepper spray, which he would use if necessary. When the man did not listen, the mayor said he sprayed him in the eyes.
“I recognize that Mayor Wheeler has a very difficult job,” Cadonau said in the Wednesday statement, adding that he has contacted the mayor’s office seeking an opportunity to amicably resolve the matter.
He also specifically apologized to his law partners for his conduct.
Cadonau’s remarks are an abrupt departure from his earlier position when he told police he wanted to hold the mayor “accountable” and hinted he’d publicly release the video he shot, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
In a statement, Wheeler said he hoped the city could return to a healthy, respectful civic conversation.
“I want to acknowledge and appreciate Mr. Cadonau’s apology. I consider the matter closed,” the mayor said.