Portland, OR

Friday in Portland: Officer fired over leaking false Hardesty report in 2021 has been reinstated, police union says

Emily Scarvie

Photo by(Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Friday, Feb. 3 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Portland officer fired over leaking false Hardesty report reinstated

The Portland Police Association says an officer who was fired last year for his role in the leak of a police report that falsely identified then-Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty as a hit-and-run suspect has been reinstated. The union said Thursday that an arbitrator appointed by the state labor board reviewed the case and determined that Brian Hunzeker’s actions did not rise to a level that justified termination. The arbitrator instead imposed a one-week unpaid suspension for the incident.

“While I stand behind my decision in this case, I respect the legal process,” Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as Police Commissioner and fired Hunzeker in Feb. 2022, said. “Meaningful accountability can take many forms, even when it may not look exactly the way we initially envisioned it. It is my sincere hope that we can all come together and find ways to bring healing for the harm caused and unity in ensuring it never happens again.”

The incident started on March 3, 2021, when a woman called to report a hit-and-run crash and falsely identified the other driver as Hardesty. She was ruled out by a police investigation the next day, but part of an initial police report mentioning Hardesty was leaked to the media.

Hunzeker abruptly resigned from his position as president of the union about two weeks later, for what the union’s board described as a “serious, isolated mistake” related to the investigation into the hit-and-run allegation. When Wheeler fired Hunzeker, he said the officer had copied a confidential record using his phone and sent it to a media outlet without authorization. Wheeler described his actions as both a violation of policy and “retaliation against a democratically elected member of the City Council due to her criticisms of the police bureau.”

2. Moda Center turning red for National Heart Month

The Moda Center is turning red this month, but it’s not for the Portland Trail Blazers. February is National Heart Month and Friday is Wear Red Day. The national events represent an effort to increase awareness for those experiencing heart disease.

Trail Blazers’ courtside reporter Brooke Olzendam has teamed up with the American Heart Association to help inform people about the significance of heart health and disease prevention. Olzendam is also launching her fourth Brooke Hearts Your Heart campaign, which has raised nearly $60,000 for heart health since 2020. According to the NBA, the cause is especially meaningful for the reporter, who experienced a sudden loss years ago.

“Brooke’s husband Andy, who passed away 10 days before they married in 2010, had a heart attack on a treadmill while working out at age 27,” the NBA said. “By sharing her personal story, Olzendam has been able to educate and show her support for the American Heart Association during National Heart Month, as well as educating and encouraging others to show their support, with the ultimate goal of saving lives.”

Portlanders can show support by wearing red on Friday and donating to the Brook Hearts Your Heart campaign.

3. Blazers' Damian Lillard selected as NBA All-Star for seventh time

On Thursday, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard was selected as an NBA All-Star for the seventh time. The All-Star reserves, including Lillard, were revealed Thursday prior to the tipoff of the Grizzlies-Cavaliers game. Clyde Drexler, who was named an All-Star eight times during his time in Portland, is the only person with more All-Star selections as a Blazer than Lillard.

Seven players were selected for each conference. This year’s All-Stars in the Western Conference include LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Zion Williamson and Nikola Jokic (starters). The reserves include Ja Morant, Domantas Sabonis, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Lauri Markkanen and Jaren Jackson Jr.

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