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What Happened to James Chasse: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - 9/26/06

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


from The Oregonian

Police brutality: Chasse death outrageous

I am very saddened and outraged by the death of this poor man who was killed while in police custody ("Trauma killed man in custody, report says," Sept. 23). I did not know James Philip Chasse Jr., but do know his father. Why does this police brutality continue happening?

It's horrifying knowing the paramedics checked Chasse out and just left him bleeding from the mouth when witnesses say he called out and begged for them not to leave him alone there with the ones who had beaten him ("Witnesses shocked by force police used in encounter," Sept. 21). I commend the witnesses for coming forward.

Pushing Chasse down and kicking and hitting him was totally uncalled for. That is not right, period. Police are there to serve and protect, not beat [people] into unconsciousness! I hope justice is served for this poor guy and his family. My deepest condolences.


The state medical examiner determined that James Philip Chasse Jr. [died from blunt force trauma caused] by the police officers who detained him for acting oddly and possibly urinating in the street.

[In a Sept. 23 letter to the editor, Chasse's aunt] said Chasse had suffered for years with mental illness. The police reported that they initially approached him because they believed he was drunk, on drugs or mentally ill. Toxicology tests determined that there were no drugs in his system.

My hope is that the officers involved will be held responsible, but accountability cannot stop there. Our society has turned its back on people suffering with mental illness. They are left on their own to live on the streets in many cases to survive without resources when they are incapable of working, taking medication or the basic skills needed to make it through the day.

We, as Chasse's neighbors, are accountable for neglecting his most basic needs as a fellow human being.

Northeast Portland

I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of James Philip Chasse Jr. My dearly loved brother, Timothy W. Grant, died under similar circumstances in Portland just six months ago.

The public should be outraged (and frightened) by the Portland Police Bureau's lack of ability to deal with people who are "acting odd" but not committing any criminal act.

My family and I moved from Portland to Medford two years ago. Since then, there have been at least two deaths in Portland where the Taser gun was involved.

There are states that do not use the Taser. I wonder how those officers deal with situations involving the mentally ill, drug abusers or drunks. That is a question the Portland Police Bureau must address. I firmly believe the day will come when Taser guns are determined to be a lethal weapon and banned. Those of us who have lost loved ones will always wonder, "What if?"


James Philip Chasse Jr. looks strangely and he acts strangely. So the cops jump on him, and then he dies --here, in Portland, downtown, in full light of day, with witnesses.

The city learns he had a mental illness only when his aunt writes a letter to the editor (Sept. 23).

May God preserve me from getting forgetful and going downtown without my dentures and with messy hair.

North Portland

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