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What Happened to James Chasse: Report details Chasse's last days before death in police custody

Friday, November 10, 2006

Report details Chasse's last days before death in police custody


from the Associated Press

Two days before James Chasse died, a mental health worker asked a Portland police officer to put him in the department's data base as a patient and to call her agency if he was found.

Medics and police check on a man who later died in police custody.

Two days later, when officers encountered him on the street in Portland's trendy Pearl district, they had no idea who he was because he ran away, the department's spokesman, Brian Schmautz, said.

The Portland Police Bureau released a thousand pages of investigative records into the death of the 42-old-man with schizophrenia. Chasse died Sept. 17 in a struggle with officers who thought he was urinating in public. A grand jury has found no criminal wrongdoing, and his family has criticized the handling of the case.

The records recount the visit Officer Jason Worthington and mental health worker Ela Howard of Project Respond visited Chasse's apartment, answering to reports that he wasn't eating and was urinating and defecating on his carpet. A detective's report says that medical records suggest that during the autumn, Chasse was not taking his medication and had quit bathing.

Seeing Worthington, in uniform, Chasse fled and chanted, "Don't hurt me," according to the report. The officer asked the mental health worker if he should pursue, the reports say. She said no but asked that Chasse be flagged in the police data base.

A restaurant worker who saw the encounter from a patio said Chasse screamed "No!" as officers ordered him to get on his stomach, the records said.

Jamie Marquez first described it as a football tackle, "like you know a nose guard tackling into the quarterback." He said the officers didn't have Chasse in a bear hug, but threw him to the ground, and "they went down with him, too."

"The cops kinda kicked his body with their foot to try to get him to move," Marquez said. "He wasn't moving."

Chasse was taken to the jail, where he appeared to suffer a seizure, the reports said, and then to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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