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What Happened to James Chasse: Beaten (or was it kicked) to death

Friday, September 22, 2006

Beaten (or was it kicked) to death

from Jack Bogadanski's Blog

It's late Friday afternoon -- time for all the news that the government doesn't want you to see.

Here's the latest from the powers that be on the poor sap who was killed by the Portland police last Sunday: He died of blunt force trauma to the chest. The medical examiner says it was accidental. That's interesting, considering that so far, I haven't heard that anyone from that office was present when the officers were, ahem, "interacting" with the victim, Jim Jim Chasse.

And what were the officers so busy hassling this guy for? So far, all I've heard was "strange behavior" and "suspicion of public urination." He didn't go quietly, and when (or after) he fought with the police, according to one eyewitness, "an officer repeatedly kicked the man somewhere in the upper midsection of his body." Another unflattering eyewitness account (with photo) is here.

If the victim in this case were a person of color, there'd be a riot going on right now, or at least a very public inquest would be scheduled. If he were a rich man from the West Hills, somebody in uniform would have lost a job by now. But he's a not-rich white guy with a history of mental illness. So I won't be surprised if this story slowly fades away -- sort of like the night they shot Squeaky to death.

UPDATE, 9/23, 8:02 a.m.: Maxine Bernstein at The O has more this morning. Apparently the trauma was contact with the ground -- either when Chasse "fell" (sure, he walked into a door) or when the police jumped on him. There are also some comments in the story from the medical examiner. The explanation of how this was an "accidental" death rather than a "homicide" is particularly noteworthy for its shallowness. Oh, and Potter's on vacation in Germany.

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