PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The head of the Portland police union has resigned over what the union called his mistake related to a police report that baselessly accused Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty of a hit-and-run crash.
“When we make mistakes, we must hold ourselves to account. Over the last 24 hours, we learned that Portland Police Association President Brian Hunzeker made a serious, isolated mistake related to the Police Bureau’s investigation into the alleged hit-and-run,” a statement from the union’s executive board said.
“We apologize to Commissioner Hardesty for that mistake and will be reaching out to meet with her personally,” the statement said.
The statement didn’t elaborate on the mistake, but the Police Bureau has assigned an internal investigator to look into the “dissemination of information” regarding a March 3 computer dispatch report by a woman who called the non-emergency line, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
The woman told the dispatcher Hardesty was the driver of a car that had rear-ended her car earlier that night.
On March 4, a Facebook page called Savepdx.org posted a Zoom live chat hosted by a former Multnomah County Republican Party chair who cited a Portland police incident report on a hit-and-run allegedly involving Hardesty.
Hardesty in a statement to the newspaper denied any involvement in the collision, saying her car was inoperable. Police officials at the time confirmed that they were investigating but said the investigation was in its initial stages. Later that day, the Police Bureau announced it ruled out Hardesty as a suspect.
At Hardesty’s urging, Mayor Ted Wheeler called for an internal police probe to determine how the information was shared before the case was fully investigated.
Hunzeker, who joined the Police Bureau in July 2020 and took over as union president last fall, didn’t immediately return messages from The Oregonian seeking comment.
In response to the announcement, the mayor, who also serves as police commissioner, said in a statement the resignation “raises significant questions that remain unanswered.”
“Mr. Hunzeker has given no reason for his resignation except that he made a serious mistake about an ongoing criminal investigation. As the police commissioner, I demand to know what that mistake was,” Wheeler said.
Retired Officer Daryl Turner, who was Hunzeker’s predecessor, will serve as the union’s executive director until a new president is selected.
Turner said it would be inappropriate for Hunzeker to speak out before the internal investigation is complete. Hunzeker will be returned to an assignment in the Police Bureau, a statement from the bureau said.