Letters to the editors of the Portland Tribune
It wasn’t that long ago that the general public feared the criminal element in our society the most. Now it’s almost come full circle, and I’m thinking, Will our own police force be next (Death ruling sparks outrage, Sept. 26)?
I often wonder about the rash of questionable actions by our local police agencies. Recent examples: the treatment of James Phillip Chasse Jr., who while in police custody suffered many broken bones and died in a police car; the treatment of Lukus Glenn, who was shot and killed by police outside his family’s Tigard home in September; the treatment of Fouad Kaady, who was shot and killed by police in Sandy last year; the actions of a Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy asking women to undress; the bad judgment of a Gresham police officer who ran a stop sign and hit a minivan, killing one passenger.
The Washington County district attorney’s office found that the shooting of Glenn was “justified.” Apparently a grand jury will not have the opportunity to look into the circumstances of his death.
But can we ever recall a time when a grand jury found a police officer guilty in the shooting or beating death of a civilian?
Now it’s Chasse. I certainly hope that the Glenn and Chasse families will pursue these cases with civil lawsuits. Maybe then all of the facts will be presented to the public.
The list of questionable actions goes on involving city, county and state police officers in Oregon and across the nation.
It’s becoming a tossup as to which element I fear the most.
Chasse’s crime was not worth his death
James Phillip Chasse Jr. died in the custody of the Portland police with broken ribs, internal bleeding, a punctured lung and a badly bruised face from repeatedly being kicked and punched. The police then tried to to justify their pathetic abuse of Chasse behind the projection of their own level of mental health.
Medical Examiner Karen Gunson stated that “accidental” is what’s “medically prudent” in this case, implying that the process leaves no alternative for her to question what’s humanely reasonable. Then she goes on to state that she could “care less what the police think,” insinuating her unbiased stance in and of the system, yet goes on to side with the police by saying that they did not mean to kill Chasse.
The real point is that these officers used obscenely obsessive force to subdue a man that led to his death, and choices were made to not give him the medical attention he deserved.
James Chasse’s crime? Public urination by a mentally ill man. The true crime has been finding these officers not guilty of murder or manslaughter. Calling this incident “accidental” is an abuse by the very system that allows it to happen.
State law allows the medical examiner to use terminology so loosely defined as to not find any guilt among police involvement.
The term “homicidal” gets close yet insinuates criminal intent to do harm, which Gunson then discounts by stating the police did not purposefully do. And “legal intervention” automatically releases the police (authority) of any wrongdoing.
Terms such as “illegal intervention” or “questionable homicide” should be options as well. I would argue that the system is structured to protect its own even when it comes to the murder of a very innocent person.
Portland has had a history of flagrant police abuse, and it is time for it to stop.
The city of Portland and the officers involved in James Chasse’s death need to take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions. To do otherwise is to condone abuse of power, and murder.