According to a police report, Portland Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler pepper-sprayed a person who accosted him while he was leaving a restaurant on Sunday night. This is the second time this month that Wheeler has been accosted while dining out.
Wheeler was leaving the McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery & Public House in Portland with around 8 pm Sunday night with former Mayor, and new administration hire, Sam Adams “when a person confronted him and accused him of sitting in a restaurant without wearing a mask,” according to the report.
In Multnomah County, outdoor dining is allowed and Wheeler and Adams had been eating in an outdoor tent at the restaurant and that he tried to explain to the man that people in Oregon were allowed to removed their masks for dining.
The mayor described the alleged assailant in the report as a middle-aged, white male. He allegedly followed Wheeler to his car and videoed the encounter.
According to the report, Wheeler said he told the man he was carrying pepper spray and to “back off,” but the man refused.
Wheeler claimed in the report that “He had no face mask on and got within a foot or two of my face while he was videoing me. I became imminently concerned for my personal safety, as I had recently been physically accosted in a similar situation. In addition, I was concerned about contracting COVID given that he was right in my face and he was not wearing a face mask.” Wheeler also said he did not recognize the individual.
As Wheeler began to climb into his car, he pepper-sprayed the man in the eyes. Pepper spray is legal in Oregon but can only be used in certain circumstances.
The mayor said he threw a water bottle at the man to rinse his eyes as the man was walking away before Wheeler and Adams drove away.
The officers who took Wheeler’s statement said that surveillance footage from the restaurant supports Wheeler’s and Adams’ account of the incident.
Earlier in the day, Wheeler was asked directly during a press conference, if there was any validity to rumors that he had pepper-sprayed someone the previous evening. Wheeler answered, “if there is, there will be a statement.”
As promised, an official statement was released from Wheeler’s office later Monday in which the mayor said he “is cooperating with the police investigation and encourages others involved to do the same.”
Police have not yet identified the man from the incident.