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What Happened to James Chasse: Portland Police Bureau Fact Sheet - Mr. James Chasse, Jr. Death Investigation

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Portland Police Bureau Fact Sheet - Mr. James Chasse, Jr. Death Investigation

from Portland Online - distributed to the press

Why has the community not been informed regarding the specifics of this case?

Historically, the Portland Police Bureau has allowed the Grand Jury to complete its
review of officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths before releasing the
specifics of the investigation. Because this process has taken much longer than the
norm, Chief Sizer is reviewing how and when we release information when there is a
strong community concern.

Why did officers initially contact Mr. Chasse?

Officers first noticed Mr. Chasse while they were responding to a different call.
They watched as he darted out into the street without looking. Officers thought he
may be hit by oncoming traffic and thought his behavior was odd. When they
observed him later, they believed he was urinating in public. As they approached
him, he ran.

Why did the officer chase Mr. Chasse?

At that point, officers believed he had committed a crime and were attempting to
stop him for that crime and to determine if he needed help. They did not know his
identity or where he lived to follow-up at a later time. In addition, frequently,
people who run from police, have warrants for their arrest.

Did officers tackle Mr. Chasse?

One officer used his forearm to push Mr. Chasse to the ground to end the foot
pursuit, which is consistent with Bureau training. As Mr. Chasse fell to the ground,
he unexpectedly rolled into the path of the officer. The officer then accidentally fell onto Mr. Chasse and rolled off. The Medical Examiner concluded that Mr. Chasse
received the injury that ultimately caused his death when the officer and Mr. Chasse
both fell to the ground. There is no evidence that Mr. Chasse received any other
injuries until officers begin CPR approximately 70 minutes later.

Did officers sit on Mr. Chasse?

There is no evidence to suggest that officers ever sat on Mr. Chasse.

Why did it take three officers to fight one man?

The Police Bureau trains to use multiple officers to arrest a combative suspect.
These techniques are widely taught around the country, and are designed to reduce
the likely of injury to the officers or the suspect. In this case, officers were
attempting to control his arms and legs, but were struggling to do so and called for
additional officers for assistance.

Did officers use the Taser and how many times did they Tase him?

Evidence clearly shows that the officer used the Taser in the Drive Stun Mode one
time. The Taser cycled four times, which means the officer attempted to use it four
times. During a combative situation in which many people are involved, officers will
cycle the Taser in an attempt to use it, but are not always successful in the
application. The physical evidence clearly shows that the Taser actually touched
Mr. Chasse’s body one time.

In Drive Stun mode the Taser is a pain compliance tool used to affect an arrest. The
Drive Stun mode does not lock muscle groups and does not use the probes. The
Taser was not used in the probe mode because of the close range in proximity to Mr.

Did the officers kick and punch Mr. Chasse?

One officer kicked Mr. Chasse after Mr. Chasse bit him and was attempting to bite
him again. Another officer inadvertently hit him as he was trying to get his arm
away from Mr. Chasse’s reach, but when Mr. Chasse attempted to bite him a
second time, he then intentionally hit him with a closed fist. The autopsy found that
neither of these strikes contributed to Mr. Chasse’s death.

According to the Bureau’s Directive on Force (1010.20), biting is defined as
aggressive physical resistance. Officers are authorized to use appropriate force to
overcome that resistance which includes baton, strikes, and kicks. Ultimately, the
officers’ use of force will be reviewed to determine if it was within Bureau policy.
The Medical Examiner has concluded that Mr. Chasse had no localized injures
consistent with an impact weapon or a physical strike.

What was AMR told regarding Mr. Chasse’s condition?

According to the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch), Medical personnel were advised
that Mr. Chasse had fought with police and at one point had been unconscious. The
Police Bureau is releasing all information related to what was told to medical
personnel. AMR personnel have refused to be interviewed by Portland Police

Why wasn’t Mr. Chasse transported to the hospital immediately?

The investigation found that the officers were told by AMR that Mr. Chasse’s vital
signs were within normal range. Records indicate that Mr. Chasse’s Blood Pressure
was 110/73, pulse 100 beats per minute, respiration rate 18-20 breaths per minute,
and his glucose level was normal. Mr. Chasse was combative with medical
personnel as they attempted to render aid.

It has been reported in the media that Mr. Chasse feared being transported by the police and at one point yelled out the word “No” repeatedly. Is this true?
Through the investigation detectives determined that Mr. Chasse became upset
because he believed medical personnel were taking his backpack. When he
understood they were not taking his property he stopped yelling.

Was Mr. Chasse examined in jail?

The investigation revealed that a jail nurse observed Mr. Chasse through a window,
but did not physically contact him because he was still combative.

Why wasn’t an ambulance called to transport Mr. Chasse from the jail to the hospital?

The officers did not receive any information from the Jail Nurse to suggest that
there was an urgency regarding his condition. The Jail contracts with Portland
Adventist Hospital for care of in-custody individuals, so officers routinely transport suspects to the hospital. Because there was no information that Mr. Chasse was medically unstable, and he was conscious and talking at the time he was placed in
the police car, officers began to transport him.

Did officers use any life-saving techniques?

As they approached the 33rd exit on the Banfield, Officers noticed that Mr. Chasse
was unconscious. They pulled over and began to administer CPR. A defibrillator
sales representative approached the officers and the officers allowed him to connect
the defibrillator. However, the defibrillator’s diagnostic told the officers not to
administer it.

How did Mr. Chasse sustain his injuries?

The Medical Examiner concluded that Mr. Chasse sustained broken ribs when Mr.
Chasse and the officer fell to the ground. Additional ribs were broken during the
process of CPR.

Were the officers CIT-certified?

All Portland Police Officers received 2 hours of CIT training during the 2004/2005
annual training. The officers involved in this incident were not CIT-certified, but it is difficult to say if that would have altered the result; Mr. Chasse fled before
officers were able to speak to him and then was fatally injured early on in the

How come officers didn’t know Mr. Chasse was mentally ill?

Officers observed Mr. Chasse behaving oddly, but did not have access to his medical
information at that moment. Officers did not know, for example, if Mr. Chasse was
impaired by drugs or alcohol. Individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol
can and do at times display behaviors similar to individual suffering from mental

Was this incident within policy and training guidelines?

As with any officer-involved shooting or in-custody death, this case will be
exhaustively reviewed through our Training Division, Internal Affairs Division and
ultimately, our Use of Force and Performance Review Board that includes citizen

There is a photo that has been published that clearly shows officers and medical
personnel just standing there and not rendering aid to Mr. Chasse. Why wasn’t anyone
attending to him at that time?

The photo shows that Mr. Chasse was on his side in the rescue position. In the
photo, 2 officers are standing with medical personnel and one officer is off to the
side. It is hard to determine from this photo what was occurring at that very
moment or the duration. All of Mr. Chasse’s vital signs had been checked by AMR
and the Fire Bureau had checked his glucose.

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