Portland mayor pepper sprays man during confrontation outside restaurant: police

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Mayor Ted Wheeler at a press conference announcing #BeHereForPortland, January 19, 2021 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The mayor of Portland, Oregon pepper-sprayed a man during a confrontation over mask-wearing outside a restaurant on Sunday evening, a police report details.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and former Mayor Sam Adams were leaving the Hillsdale McMenamin’s pub around 8 p.m. when they said they were approached by a middle-aged white man who appeared to be recording video with his phone. He told them he had taken photos of Wheeler while he was inside the restaurant’s tent, according to the Portland Police Bureau report.

Adams said Wheeler explained to the man that the current COVID-19 rules allowed for people to not wear masks while eating and drinking and the man then reportedly said they weren’t six feet apart, the police report said.

Wheeler told police he didn’t recognize the man, who he said in the report wasn’t wearing a mask.

When the man allegedly followed Wheeler to the mayor’s car, Wheeler said he “became immediately concerned for [his] personal safety” and was “concerned about contracting Covid,” he said to police in a statement.

Wheeler said he told the man “to back off,” warning that he had pepper spray and that he would use it. When the man didn’t back away, Wheeler then sprayed the man with pepper spray in the eyes, the police report says.

“He seemed surprised, and backed off,” Wheeler’s statement to police in the report said. “He made a comment like ‘I can’t believe you just pepper sprayed me.'”

The report describes the man as being in his 40s, shorter than 6 feet tall, with a medium build, wearing a dark-colored and heavy jacket, and was possibly wearing glasses.

The incident came to light Monday morning during Wheeler’s press conference when he was asked by Portland Mercury’s Alex Zielinski whether he had pepper-sprayed a person the evening before.

“I can tell you there was an incident,” Wheeler said. “I filed a police report. And that’s all I can tell you right now.”

Ted Wheeler’s office has released a statement after the Portland mayor confirmed he filed a police report for an “incident” that allegedly happened Sunday night.

Wheeler’s office did not elaborate on the specific incident immediately after the press conference but acknowledged a police report had been filed.

“Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler filed a police report relating to an incident that occurred Sunday evening. The mayor is cooperating with the police investigation and encourages others involved to do the same,” the statement read.

Wheeler has been confronted by members of the public in the past, including earlier this year when he was approached in a restaurant.

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