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What Happened to James Chasse: 2006-10-22

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Remembering a gentle soul, pursuing justice

from The Oregonian


Stories of eccentricities, poems and songs that family and friends shared in a memorial vigil for "Jim-Jim" Friday night brought to life a man now more noted for his death in Portland police custody.

James P. Chasse Jr. died Sept. 17 after police spotted him acting strangely in the Pearl District, chased him when he ran away, then knocked him down and struggled to arrest him. Numerous broken ribs punctured a lung, and an autopsy found Chasse died of blunt force trauma to the chest.

Chasse, 42, was schizophrenic.

At the vigil, titled "Love One Another," at the First Congregational Church/United Church of Christ, speakers shared remembrances of Chasse and pleas for justice with the more than 300 people attending.

His father, James P. "Jim" Chasse Sr., said his son was "always the kind of person that dogs loved" and who "took spiders outside where they belonged."

"In the end, our prayer for us all is to remember that we are the ones who can spread the tolerance for diverse people living in frustrating circumstances," the father said.

His brother, Mark Chasse, noted that Chasse's favorite holidays were Halloween and Christmas. He credited his big brother with saving him from drowning in a pool before a lifeguard even noticed.

Chasse's mother, Linda Gerber, said, "That such a sweet, gentle man should die so violently and so senselessly is a great tragedy."

Friends from Chasse's teen years spoke of him as a well-loved figure in an emerging Portland punk rock scene of loners in the late '70s. They read letters and poems Chasse had written.
You and me
we went to tea
we poured out tea
quite evenly.
Yesaroo
Mental illness took away much of Chasse's clarity, friends said, recalling how he at one time claimed to be a reincarnation of Joan of Arc. But he remained sweet and innocent, they said.

A song a friend wrote about him, titled "Nothing to Fear," was played during the vigil.

You don't realize the colors you shine.

You're an abstract painting without any straight lines.

Several speakers spoke of the public's desire for justice for Chasse and called his death unnecessary.

"He did not deserve to be murdered for being crazy," said friend X J Elliott.

Mark Lasley, 51, of Portland never met Chasse or his family but said he attended the vigil to protest police actions.

"(Chasse) didn't hurt them. It's just not right," Lasley said.

In an earlier interview, Jason Renaud, secretary of the Mental Health Association of Portland and a high school friend of Chasse's, said the vigil was a chance to do more than mourn Chasse. Those attending could display how much of the community is connected to someone who may have appeared transient or destitute.

Renaud contended that Chasse didn't die because of a mental health crisis or a health system problem, but rather of police action. He hoped the vigil could raise awareness of the need for people to feel safe in public and confident of their police force.

The family asked that donations in memory of Chasse be made to Portland's Operation Nightwatch, a charity for the homeless, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Officer in Chasse case faced 2005 complaint

from The Oregonian, by Maxine Bernstein and Steve Suo

Earlier this year, Portland paid a man more than $30,000 to settle a 2005 excessive force complaint filed in federal court against four officers, including Christopher Humphreys, who was involved in the James P. Chasse Jr. case.

Humphreys and three other Portland officers, Lonn Sweeney, Erik Strohmeyer and Brent Christensen, mistook a man for a suspect in a Southeast Portland domestic assault case on April 21, 2003, and used physical force to arrest him.

The lawsuit accused the four officers of pulling an 18-year-old man from his car, piling on him and beating him for an extended period with multiple punches, kicks, baton strikes, and use of pepper spray and Taser shots.

The suit alleged that Humphreys struck the man about 30 times with his baton, hitting him across the shins and midsection, and that the officers then "maliciously lied" in their police reports to justify taking the teenager into custody when they realized he wasn't the man they were after.

The city, in court papers, responded that officers used a "reasonable amount of force" to defend themselves against what they "reasonably believed" to be the plaintiff's unlawful actions and force against them. The city did acknowledge that the man arrested, Chaz W. Miller, was not the suspect sought.

The four officers still took him into custody, accusing him of resisting arrest, attempting to elude a police officer, reckless driving and recklessly endangering another person.

In December 2003, a 12-member jury in Multnomah County Circuit Court acquitted Miller of all five charges. In a recording of the five-day trial, the officers said the victim of the domestic assault gave police the suspect's name, Paul Swayze, described him as drunk and gave a description of his vehicle. The officers said Miller's blue-and-white pickup fit that description and was parked outside Swayze's home.

But the woman who made the complaint testified that she told police that Swayze left her house on foot, and may have been given a ride home by a mutual friend named Chaz Miller, who drove a blue-and-white pickup. She described Swayze as having brown hair and blue eyes.

Miller, who has blond hair, was asleep in his pickup, parked outside Swayze's home when police approached around 4 a.m. According to the police reports, the officers said they rapped on his window and asked whether he was "Paul." But Miller said he awoke to police busting out the driver's side window, and pepper-spraying him. Miller said he drove off, thinking someone was breaking into his truck.

Officers chased after and cut the truck off. In the trial, Humphreys testified that he tried pulling Miller from the pickup by the legs and struck his legs 10 to 12 times with his baton. Once Miller fell out of the pickup and was pulled to the ground by another officer, Humphreys testified he struck him 10 to 12 times again with the baton, hitting him in the right shoulder, back and midsection because Miller kept struggling with officers.

Suspect said to cry out

Witness Mark Parkison testified at the trial that he saw Miller fall out the passenger side of his truck and run toward Parkison's driveway. He said several police surrounded Miller, punching him in the ribs, jabbing him with a baton in his shoulder blade and kicking him. He said he heard the police calling him "Paul!" and Miller crying out in pain.

At one point, Parkison said he picked up a chair and tossed it against a wall, and angrily called out, "His name is Chaz!"

"You don't see that stuff everyday, and when you do see it coming out of the people who are supposed to be there for us it's horrifying," Parkison testified.

John H. Repp, who lived across the street, said he heard the baton strikes and looked outside. "I could hear the whacks of the sticks hitting him," Repp testified. "I figured his ribs were going to be busted up. I figured they were going to kill him."

Miller, who wept as he testified, said he was using his hands to block the punches to his ribs. "I didn't understand why they were beating me . . , and I wanted it to stop."

Taken to hospital


Once arrested, Miller was placed in a hobble restraint, his ankles tied to his wrists. The jail didn't accept him, and he was taken to Portland Adventist Hospital. He suffered bruises, but no permanent injuries, his civil lawyer said. Miller's public defender in the criminal case, Dawn Andrews, criticized the police for jumping to conclusions without accurate information.

In February, the city settled the federal civil rights case, paying $32,683 to the plaintiff, and in April, $59,485 in attorneys' fees and costs.

J. Scott Moede, a deputy city attorney who handled the federal case, declined to comment on the settlement.

After Portland police identified Humphreys as one of the officers involved in Chasse's death last month, an attorney who represented Miller posted a note on a local blog reporting Humphreys was involved in this prior excessive force complaint. Travis Eiva, said he did so because the allegations in the Miller case --"officers standing over a man and beating him" --were similar to the Chasse case.

"Prior to the Chasse incident, City Council was on notice that there were serious allegations of excessive force against Officer Humphreys," Eiva wrote on a Jack Bog's Blog. "The city already has taken a bullet for Officer Humphreys in the past, i.e., negotiated a deal that protected him from personal culpability for violent actions."

"Take-down" control

According to Portland Police Bureau data on officers' use of force, compiled from Aug. 1, 2004, through Oct. 4, Humphreys was tied for second among officers in the number of cases in which force was used.

Humphreys filed 78 use of force reports during that period, the same number as Detective Dirk Anderson, who is assigned to track down fugitives for the U.S. Marshals Office.

The only officer who reported more incidents was Central Precinct Officer Brian Hubbard, with 117 cases.

Humphreys described 55 of these cases, or 71 percent, as "high-risk incidents," compared with 43 percent of use of force cases bureauwide. In 22 percent of his cases, Humphreys reported a suspect was injured.

Also in 71 percent of Humphreys reports, he said "take-down" was one of the control measures used on a suspect. That compares with 21 percent of use of force cases bureauwide. Police said "take-down" includes not only tackles but also other means of forcing a suspect to the ground.

But police caution that the data don't take into account officers' specific assignments.

Humphreys, who was hired by the Police Bureau in February 1999 and worked as a deputy sheriff in Wheeler County for about three years before, has been assigned to Transit police for more than a year. Recently, he's been on TriMet uniform patrol and is the main custody officer for undercover missions.

"He would be the uniform cover that would actually make the arrest, so he has a lot of hands-on contact with people," said his boss, Transit police Cmdr. Donna Henderson. "His activity level looks a little different because of that."

Further, Henderson said her unit of 28 officers that patrols the MAX train and bus lines make 18 percent to 20 percent of the drug arrests in the Portland area. She said she's never had a complaint against Humphreys and reviewed his internal affairs file, and found it "pretty minimal."

A Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by Humphreys or other officers involved in Chasse's death on Sept. 17. Chasse died from broad-based blunt-force trauma to his chest after police knocked him to the ground and struggled to take him into custody. Humphreys is expected to return to work today.

City Auditor Gary Blackmer and Leslie Stevens, director of the Independent Police Review Division, plan to hire an independent consultant to analyze the bureau's use of force data. Officers fill out forms every time they use any physical control, a weapon or point a gun at someone.

"The Chasse case sort of gave us the impetus to squeeze some money out of the auditor's office to make it happen," Stevens said, estimating the consultant will cost less than $20,000. "Our goal is to look at any patterns that we see and develop any remedial plans, make recommendations regarding revised directives or training."

I'll be at Jim Jim's memorial tonight

from Mary's Great Ideas

Jim Jim was a member of the same loose-knit community of young people as me in the early 1980s, a lot of us creative, many of us smart, some of us more punk rock than others, a few of us a little messed up. What do you expect from an alternative school? (and an alternative era)?

(As an aside, I must confess that it was only when I was working in the field of education that I learned that "alternative" can mean "bad" -- I just thought we were different and weird and edgy ... you know, in a good way. And actually, I still think we were.)

But that's not why I'm going. I didn't know Jim Jim that well. He was older than me by a few years and, truth be told, a lot cooler. I was still focused on things like horses and fantasy books, didn't care very much about music, let alone local music, and certainly wasn't very fashionable. Jim Jim was a part of a crowd that was in bands (or at least knew a lot about them), wore cool clothes, and did crazy adventurous shit that, in retrospect, some of which was actually crazy. And I certainly wasn't in touch over the last twenty plus years. If Jim Jim had died peacefully, I probably never would have heard about it. Violent circumstances increase the impact of a death exponentially.

I asked my mother last night if she was going and she said, "I thought it was just people who knew him," and I said, no, I don't think so. I think that we are invited to attend Jim Jim's memorial for reasons beyond our individual connection to him, or even our connection to a particular cultural moment, and it's for those broader reasons that I'm going.

I'll be there to honor Jim Jim's memory, and to hear more about him from his friends and family. I remember Jim Jim as gentle and vulnerable and interesting. He wasn't a boring person. He wasn't a violent person. He didn't deserve to be killed, and he does deserve to be remembered.

I'll be there to show my respect and support to his family. I witnessed how my family, particularly my grandmother, worked to support and sustain my schizophrenic father. My grandmother lived to bury him, and although his death was peaceful, it broke her heart, and I think particularly so because he had remained dependent on her in his adulthood. I can only imagine what Jim Jim's mother and father must feel. I hope it's some comfort to his family to know that the people of Portland empathize and support them.

I'll be there to show solidarity with my community. In the face of an outrage, it's one thing to read newspaper stories and blogs and write letters -- there is some value to these. But for me, there's something organically compelling and, yes, empowering about standing together in a crowd.

I'll be there to show quiet outrage. I'm not naive; I come from a political, multi-racial family. (I've said it before, and it's true: I'm pretty much the whitest person in my family, if you don't count the Mormon branch.) I've always known that there are police who abuse their power, but even with my background, it wasn't something that was, I don't know, of pressing importance. Jim Jim's death has narrated this reality for me in a way that is immediate, real, and personal. I'm sorry now that I never showed up at a vigil for Kendra James, or any of the others who the police have abused or killed. Jim Jim's memorial gives me the chance to reflect on a broader injustice and show my opposition to it in a way that, for me, feels comfortable and appropriate (I'm not so excited about participating in rowdy spectacles these days). I'm grateful that his family has given us this opportunity to be together in a peaceful, respectful setting.

I'll be there to listen. The Portland Mental Health Association has given a tentative list of people who might be speaking at the memorial. Looking at the range of organizations and individuals, I'm looking forward to learning more about Jim Jim, the problems his death highlights, and possible solutions.

* Rev. Dr. Patricia Ross, First Congregational
* Rev. Paul Davis, First Congregational
* Jim and Pamela Chasse - family
* Mark Chasse - family
* Rev. Catherine Nelson, Trinity Episcopal
* Rev. Chuck Currie, Parkrose United Church of Christ
* Mike Lastra - friend
* Debbie Coppinger, Operation Nightwatch
* Kt and Kim Kincaid - friends
* Beckie Child, Mental Health Association of Oregon
* Martin Gonzalez, Justice for Jose Mejia Poot Committee
* Jason Renaud, Mental Health Association of Portland
* X J Elliott - friend
* Avel Gordly, Oregon State Senator
* Dr. T Allen Bethel, Maranatha Church of God
* Eva Lake - friend
* Steve Doughton - friend

Maybe I'll see you there tonight.

Friday, October 27, 2006 7:00 PM
First Congregational Church
1126 SW Park Ave

Remarks From The Memorial Of James Chasse, Jr.

from The Rev. Chuck Currie

This evening over 500 people gathered at Portland's First Congregational United Church of Christ to mourn the death of James Chasse, Jr. My written remarks and a podcast of those remarks are below. There were numerous media outlets and local bloggers in attendance. Tomorrow, I'll link to some of the other coverage. But let me say that all the speakers brought James to life for those who were there. His family and friends did James a great honor with their comments.

If your heart is broken and anger stirs your soul you are not alone. We gather tonight as a community in grief but committed to peace. And we demand both as Portlanders and as the people of God the justice that James Chasse, Jr. deserved in life and still requires in death. We should not be in this place tonight. But here we are.

Our responsibilities to the Chasse family and to all those in our city are clear: we must be Christ-like in our compassion. It really is not fair to ask for compassion when that would seem to be the last thing that James received the night he died. Yet broken hearts need healing… and compassion – and compassion’s twin which is love – has the power to mend that which is broken.

We hear throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament God calling us to be a people of justice. Our God is the one that freed the slaves from the Pharaoh and the God that declared that the least of these – the widow, the orphan, the poor and the sick – should come first. Where was God the night that James died? God was with James and as our hearts break, God’s breaks, and as we cry, God cries along side us.

There are no easy answers. Reform, yes! Justice, yes! Compassion and love, yes!

Is it possible that we can even in the midst of such deep and profound grief ask of ourselves hope? Hope for a world where every human is treated with dignity and respect? Hope for new treatments for those who suffer from mental illness? Hope that as a city we turn this great tragedy around and use it as a moment to accomplish great things in loving memory of James?

“Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” reads the Psalm (Psalm 30:5 NRSV).

Let tears flow freely tonight. But tomorrow and the next day and the next day:

….let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24 NRSV)

Use the below link to download the podcast of these remarks for your iPod or personal computer.

Download JamesChasse.m4a

(click with the RIGHT mouse button on the hyperlink and choose “Save Target As” and save to your desktop or other folder – once downloaded click on the file to listen).

Chasse's family focuses on healing

The family of James Chasse, who died in police custody last month, planned to focus on Chasse's life during a candlight vigil for the man Friday night.

Family members said the vigil was designed for healing -- healing for the family as well as the community at large.

They asked that any anger toward police be placed aside during the vigil as they reflect on what kind of person Chasse was.

The case generated a lot of controversy and finger-pointing after the officers who were involved were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

Officer involved in Chasse death has long history of using force

from KGW.com

The officers involved in the death of a mentally ill Portland man have a long history of using force, according to police records and court documents.

Previously, KGW reported that two of the officers involved in James Chasse’s death were the focus of federal lawsuits claiming excessive force. In both cases, the jury sided with the officers. However, KGW learned of another case – this one was settled out of court.

David Repp said he witnessed his friend getting taken into custody in southeast Portland a few years ago and the officers were violent.

“When they carried him away, he looked like a dead guy. All you could just see was a little bit of breathing,” Repp said.

The friend, Chaz Miller, sued police for the April 2003 incident, claiming officers mistook him for a wanted suspect and assaulted him. Miller was 18 at the time. According to his mother, he suffered injuries from head to toe.

Earlier this year, the city of Portland agreed to settle out of court for more than $30,000.

Portland police officer Christopher Humphreys was among the defendants in the case. Last month, he was one of the officers involved in the death of James Chasse.

Chasse died in custody after a violent confrontation with police last month. A grand jury cleared officers of any criminal wrong-doing.

Over the last two years, Humphreys filed 78 use of force reports, police records indicate; he’s tied for the second highest number among all Portland police officers.

According to his supervisors, Humphreys worked as an arresting officer in many drug cases, requiring him to take down suspects.

Portland Police Spokesman Sergeant Brian Schmautz said Humphreys is a conscientious and hard-working officer.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - 10/26/06

from The Oregonian

Police policies must change


My husband and I both work at a local hospital. If the James P. Chasse Jr. incident had occurred within a hospital setting, there would be no question of where the fault lay. To end up with an uncooperative patient --and we have many --with even one broken rib or a death is totally unacceptable, and the personnel involved would realize that heads are going to roll.

That policy stands for people on drugs and people who are drunk or mentally ill. It stands for people biting, spitting or attacking us. Policies need to change within the police department for all involved.

Given the high volume of calls relating to drugs, alcohol and mental illness, we would be led to believe that police personnel would have better training and protocols so the citizens or offenders of Portland are safe.

SHEREE HOBSON
Southeast Portland

UPFRONT Top of the town For every problem, there's a committee


from The Oregonian, Anna Griffin


It's getting to be something of a routine in Tom Potter's City Hall: When trouble strikes, form a committee.

Downtown safety. School funding. Gang violence. Immigration. Racial profiling. Government efficiency.

Committees --or in the case of government and Potter's plan to streamline and smarten city bureaus, 20 separate subcommittees --are studying or have studied all those questions during Potter's first two years. Under Mayor McProcess, every crisis, every looming issue, comes with a committee.

He did it again this month in response to the death of James Chasse in police custody. Instead of talking about the injuries Chasse suffered, Potter announced plans to create a committee to study how state, county and local governments treat the mentally ill. He wants this study group, which will include representatives from various government agencies and the private sector, to come up with recommendations for the Oregon Legislature to consider next year.

The response among bloggers, human services types and even some City Hall denizens was a quick and resounding hiss of incredulity and frustration. Leadership, their thinking goes, means taking a stand, not gathering up a group of smart people to tell you what to think.

At the same time, it's not clear what the mayor was supposed to do in the Chasse case.

Yes, as Hizzoner himself has acknowledged, he probably should have come out with a statement on the topic sooner than a week after the fact. Yes, creation of a committee does, at this point, prompt some understandable eye-rolling.

But in a legal sense, the mayor's hands were tied: As he acknowledged last week, he's still not sure just what happened when those Portland officers came upon Chasse, acting disoriented and possibly peeing in the street. For liability reasons, he couldn't even come out and apologize to the family --"Any death while in police custody, regardless of the cause, is something for which I feel the need to apologize" --until after the grand jury finished its work.

So what should Potter have said and done in this particular case?

We're forming a committee to look into that very question.

Oregonian reporters Paige Parker and Arthur Gregg Sulzberger contributed, against their better judgment.

Posters Calling Officers Killers Pop Up In Portland

from KOIN.com

Some say it is free speech. Others say it goes too far. We're talking about posters showing pictures of the officers involved in the James Chasse case, posters that call the officers killers.

Chasse is the Portland man who died in police custody after a violent struggle with three officers in the Pearl District last month.

A grand jury last week cleared the officers involved of wrong doing. That after eye witnesses complained of how Chasse was tackled and the blows he took to the head and chest.

One poster baring the images of the officers calls them killers and pigs. Another reads stop me before I kill again.

The signs were found in North and Northeast Portland and public reaction is mixed.

Some said it is freedom of speech while others say it doesn't solve anything, it only makes things worse.

Chasse died of blunt force trauma to the chest. He had sixteen broken ribs and a pierced lung.

Chief Rosie Sizer was unavailable for comment Thursday.

While the grand jury did clear the officers there is still a fair amount of outrage over the incident.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - 10/25/06

from The Oregonian
Chasse death reverberates
I am always amazed by how many people become experts on police tactics when a suspect dies in a confrontation with cops. The James P. Chasse Jr. incident was unfortunate. Everyone can agree on that, but the officers involved did not intend for him to die.

Officers arrest thousands of people each year, and many of those suspects fight. I would encourage all the armchair quarterbacks with black belts and nursing degrees to consider a career in law enforcement. Then they can solve all the problems instead of just whining about them.

If you have never been in a real fight, you have no idea how difficult it is trying to take one person into custody if he is resisting.

The men and women of the Portland Police Bureau are smart, well trained, and most of all compassionate and caring. That's why they do the job. I worked for the Police Bureau for more than 20 years and once had to kill a robbery suspect who took a hostage. I did not go to work that day hoping to kill someone, but cops don't get to choose the calls they get sent to.

We have thrown our mentally ill citizens on the street to eat out of Dumpsters and sleep in doorways. Most people have the ability to just ignore them. Police don't have that option. So don't complain about what the police can do better with the mentally ill; let's examine what we as Oregonians can do to help these people.

CAPT. C.W. JENSEN
Retired, Portland Police Bureau
Northwest Portland

The death of James P. Chasse Jr. at the hands of police was horrific and unconscionable, sowing fear and grief throughout Oregon. The grand jury ruling exonerating the officers of criminal wrongdoing only perpetuated our collective shock.

Thankfully, The Oregonian published an editorial plea for "a new determination by the mayor and chief that this death be the last" ("Chasse's death demands public inquest, illumination," Oct. 18).

Chasse's death was not inevitable. It was not due to the failure of our mental health system. It was preventable. Effective and respectful law enforcement interventions for people with mental health diagnoses exist around the nation. Such training should be mandatory for all dispatchers and officers.

A commitment by Mayor Tom Potter and Police Chief Rosie Sizer to meet with and engage in a civic dialogue with people who use mental health services would be a welcome first step toward this goal.

BECKIE CHILD
President
Mental Health Association of Oregon
Southwest Portland

Photo of Christopher Humphrey and Brett Burton

Sizer’s Oregonian editorial swipes at publishing officers’ addresses on websites

from the Portland Mercury

Police Chief Rosie Sizer has hit back in an Oregonian editorial after 50 anti police brutality protesters picketed her West Hills home on Sunday afternoon.
It’s not constructive for people who say they are outraged by violence to threaten the lives of officers and publish their home addresses on websites. It’s not constructive to make wide-sweeping assumptions about more than 1,000 people who put on a badge every day. It’s not fair or broad-minded for people to draw conclusions about the entire Portland Police Bureau when they admit they have never visited a precinct, spoken to an officer or attended any community policing event.

“This incident and the actions of the officers should not be tried in the court of public opinion,” she writes, conceding later that “community members have a right to be concerned when there are serious allegations made against police officers.”

Question: If the community is dis-satisfied with the judicial process used to determine criminal liability on the part of Portland’s police officers, where can they air their grievances other than in the court of public opinion? Many feel they will never see justice for James Chasse, as long as the District Attorney’s office is responsible for trying the cops it works alongside on a daily basis. While Sizer encourages readers now to “focus on the broader issues”, there’s a very specific issue that needs to be addressed first.

If we’re to read Sizer’s editorial as an effort to engage in discussion with the community, aren’t Chasse’s family entitled to contribute to that discussion by saying they don’t think the Grand Jury process is fair? Public opinion is not a one-way street.

Chasse Cop's History

from Willamette Week

Data from Portland Police shows one of the officers involved in James Chasse's death among the department's top users of force.

One of the two Portland police officers involved in the struggle that killed James Chasse Jr. is among the bureau's top users of force, a Willamette Week review of police department data has found.

The official police investigation concluded that the injuries leading to Chasse's death on Sept. 17 were caused by Officer Christopher Humphreys. Reports conflict as to whether Humphreys knocked Chasse to the ground and then accidentally fell on top of him, crushing his ribs, or whether he intentionally tackled him. In addition, citizen witnesses have told the media that Humphreys, with other officers, punched and kicked Chasse while trying to restrain him.

A WW analysis of Portland Police Bureau data, which covers roughly the past two and a half years, shows that whichever account is right, Humphreys, a seven-year veteran, has used force more often than almost all of the other the 785 officers in the database.

A few years ago, the bureau started requiring that police officers file a report every time they used physical force against a suspect—whether it's shooting, hitting with a baton, squirting pepper spray or deploying a Taser. More than 8,500 "use of force reports" were logged as of this week.

WW's analysis shows that for overall uses of force, Humphreys is tied for No. 2 among all officers, with a total of 78 incidents.

Police say officers' uses of force shouldn't be examined without taking the officer's job duties into consideration. Humphreys works as a transit police officer and frequently makes the physical arrests of suspects identified by undercover officers in drug missions around the TriMet lines, says his supervisor, Cmdr. Donna Henderson.

"It's different than the general police department," she says. "We're usually on the system or watching the system. There's usually always something going on. So his stats in that area would be extremely high."

Humphreys' attorney, Steven Myers, declined to comment.

Police also say the overall numbers can seem higher than they really are in terms of actual force used, because officers must fill out use-of-force reports even if they only pointed a gun or a Taser at someone. So, WW took a closer look at just physical force and found that Humphreys was in the Top 5 of three separate categories.

* For blunt "impact" strikes (which include hand, foot, baton and flashlight strikes), Humphreys is tied for No. 1 among the 295 officers who reported using such strikes. He reported using strikes 25 times. All but one of those was with his hands and/or feet. The remaining instance was marked "other."

* For physical force used to restrain suspects (such as "take downs," "pressure points" and "control holds," but not including just placing a suspect in handcuffs), Humphreys is tied for No. 2 among the 422 officers who reported using that type of force.

* Among officers whose uses of force caused injury to suspects, Humphreys is No. 5 out of 413 officers who reported injuring suspects. Suspects were injured in 17 of his 78 incidents—that's more than one injury for every five uses of force and higher than the overall average. Of those 17 injuries, two suspects were taken to a hospital.

Sgt. Kyle Nice, the other Portland officer involved in Chasse's death, had a total of 17 uses of force, including five involving physical force. Two suspects were injured, one of whom was taken to a hospital. Of 785 officers, 175 used force at least as many times as Nice. The other officer involved in the Chasse death, Brad Burton, was not covered in the Portland police database because he is a Multnomah County sheriff's deputy.

Police chief addresses officer harassment in Chasse death

from KGW.com

Portland's Police chief addressed the harassment of local officers targeted because they were cleared in the case of a man who died in custody.

Rosie Sizer said Wednesday she was tired of the finger pointing and name calling surrounding the death of James Chasse, a mentally ill man who died of blunt force trauma to the chest in the back of a police car in September.

A grand jury cleared officers involved. It was determined an officer fell on Chasse during a struggle as they tried to take him into custody, police said.
But Sizer pointed to some flyers posted around North and Northeast Portland that included photos of the officers involved and derogatory remarks.

Many of the flyers have been removed.

Sizer said the need now is to need to focus on the bigger issues exposed by this tragedy.

”Really the discussion about use of force, about the state of the mental health system and about the intersection between police officers and emergency managers, which are the three central issues can be hijacked by something that is deeply personal and quite offensive," Sizer said.

The bureau is currently reviewing policy and procedure related to this incident. And the mayor has asked for a comprehensive look at mental health services.

Case Not Closed - Three questions still remain unanswered in the death of James P. Chasse Jr.

from Willamette Week

Unless you've been on a reality TV show that forbids contact with the outside world, you probably know about the Sept. 17 death of James P. Chasse Jr., following a scuffle with police.

Many questions have been raised in the past month about how police officers dealt with Chasse, a 42-year-old schizophrenic man, and how his chest was crushed. Police say the injuries probably happened when Officer Christopher Humphreys, who was chasing Chasse, fell on top of him or tackled him.

Chasse's family, which has released transcripts of police interviews with the officers involved, points out a problem with that account, however: Humphreys told investigators he "fell on the sidewalk," not on Chasse—raising the prospect that the injuries were caused by punches and kicks delivered by officers in their struggle to subdue him.

"Not a single one of the officers describes it the way the bureau describes it," says family attorney Tom Steenson. The medical examiner's report, however, backs up the police version, saying the injuries were inconsistent with a beating death.

A grand jury earlier this month cleared the two Portland police officers and the Multnomah County sheriff's deputy of any criminal wrongdoing in Chasse's death. But three nagging questions remain unanswered:

Should there be consequences for the ambulance company or the medics who refused to talk with detectives about what happened as part of their contract to provide ambulance services for the county?

Medics from American Medical Response, which collected $21.6 million last year under its contract with Multnomah County, wouldn't talk to investigators. Detectives tried to interview AMR employees before and after the grand jury met, but say those employees wouldn't talk with them.

County Counsel Agnes Sowle says no rule exists that would punish county subcontractors, such as the medics or their bosses, for not cooperating with police, even if the actions under investigation were part of their contractual duties. Nonetheless, if medics working under one government contract are impeding another government agency's investigation, maybe pouring taxpayer money into their pockets should be reconsidered.

We asked several county commissioners whether they were taking a closer look at AMR's contract in light of Chasse's death. The only office that returned calls (Lisa Naito's) said Sowle had directed them not to speak about it due to potential litigation.

AMR spokesman Jason Sorrick says the company doesn't have a policy against cooperating with police investigations, and that employees "cooperated fully" by testifying before the grand jury. He would not address their refusal to talk with Portland police.

It's also worth noting that Chasse suffered massive internal injuries, including a punctured lung. According to the medical examiner's report, police, not medics, decided whether to take Chasse to a hospital or to jail.

Why has public outrage at Chasse's death been stronger than that in other recent deaths at the hands of police that seem to warrant equal scrutiny?

Chasse's death a little over a month ago has prompted at least 15 stories totaling about 12,000 words in The Oregonian, as well as others in the Portland Tribune and on TV. Yet the January shooting death of an unarmed man by Portland police Lt. Jeffrey Kaer outside his sister's home, while Kaer was supposed to be on duty in another precinct, merited less than half as many words in The Oregonian over nearly 10 months.

A grand jury cleared Kaer, who still must face a departmental disciplinary board. He told investigators he shot to prevent himself from being run over.

Why did the Portland Police Bureau release an official "fact sheet" Oct. 17 on the death that said "one officer used a forearm to push Mr. Chasse to the ground" when there's no agreement on this point in the taped statements taken from the officers involved?

"It's common to have difference of opinion among witnesses," says Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. "What the detectives will do is take the totality of information and develop what they believe is the most likely series of events."

The Police Bureau's full report on Chasse's death, with witness statements and other materials, is expected to be released by next week.

A candlelight vigil for Chasse will be held at 7 pm Friday, Oct. 27, at First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Ave.

Kyle Nice Street Posters




Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chasse jurors cite policy 'holes'

from The Oregonian, by Maxine Bernstein
Multnomah County grand jurors who reviewed the death of James P. Chasse Jr. in police custody said they had concerns about police, medical and jail procedures but were unanimous in their finding of no criminal wrongdoing.

"There are definite holes in the policy and procedures as to how this case was handled," said juror Daniel Beck, 31, who works in the semiconductor field. "But we didn't find any criminal fault in his death."

The jurors, four men and three women, began discussing the testimony as they received it over five days, in between hearing 16 other property crime and drug offense cases. Three of the seven jurors agreed to be interviewed.

While hearing testimony from 30 people in the Chasse case, the jurors raised some perplexing questions: How could the paramedics who evaluated Chasse at the scene not detect the seriousness of his injuries? How could his vital signs, including his pulse and respiration, have been normal if he just suffered fractures to 16 ribs? Why did the jail nurse not do a full medical evaluation?

Chasse, a 42-year-old who suffered from schizophrenia, died in police custody Sept. 17 after police struggled to arrest him when he ran from them. Chasse died of broad-based blunt force trauma to the chest. Broken ribs punctured a lung, impairing his breathing.

Clara Tierheimer, a 54-year-old microbiologist, said one of the basic, agonizing questions was when and how the fatal injuries occurred. Dr. Karen Gunson, the state medical examiner, testified that the side-and-back rib fractures probably were caused by a very large, crushing-type of force, a huge object hitting him or falling from a great height, three jurors said.

"One of the big problems we had was really establishing where this all took place, in terms of the crushing injuries," Tierheimer recounted.

Conflicting testimony


Jurors heard from seven civilian eyewitnesses, including staff and patrons at Bluehour Restaurant, and pedestrians who saw the initial police action.

Randall Stuart, a pedestrian who filed an excessive-force complaint with the city, was the first witness called. He said he was given ample time to explain what he saw, and even acted out the kicking and punching. "I saw all four men go down in skids, tumbles and rolls in what was a chaotic takedown," Stuart said. "I saw no whole body slap upon another body."

Diane Loghry of Washington, who was seated on the front patio of Bluehour with a friend, said in an interview she first heard loud screaming and yelling. She said she was facing the street and saw three officers tackle Chasse.

"It was a three-on-one combative, get-him-down-to-the-ground. They were using every part of their bodies to get him down," Loghry said. "They were on top of him."

Once Chasse was down, the officers yelled at him to get onto his stomach, and he wouldn't. She saw one officer punch him in the torso, saying "Don't bite me!" Two other officers, she said, were near Chasse's legs, one officer with his knee on Chasse's back, both "using their bodies to hold him down."

No medical treatment

Loghry was called to testify before the grand jury. She said what struck her was that Chasse, who was "moaning and groaning and obviously in distress," wasn't taken directly to a hospital.

"That they didn't put him in the ambulance was beyond me," Loghry said.

Her friend Melissa Gaylord, who was seated facing the restaurant but turned to see much of the action and was interviewed by detectives, was not subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury.

"I am so assured that not one of them fell on him," Gaylord said. She said all the officers had their hands on Chasse, and she said one pushed his head to the ground.

Benjamin Persyn, 26, a waiter at Bluehour, was late to work that day and was driving east on Northwest Everett Street when he saw the officers struggling with Chasse, already on the ground. He said the officers were on top of Chasse, and he heard Chasse screaming, "No!"

"They weren't full body weight. They were trying to hold him down and trying to get his arms behind his back," Persyn said. By the time Persyn parked, he said, he was stunned to see the officers still struggling with Chasse.

Constance Doolan, a friend of Stuart's from Oakland, Calif., who watched the encounter, provided a signed affidavit of her observations. She said she believed the officers fell on top of Chasse. "That was my impression, that they fell on top of him," she said, describing a heavy hit to the pavement.

The jurors noted there were inconsistencies among the witnesses' accounts but found that most relayed that they watched the officers tackle Chasse and at least one officer land on him. Others testified that they just saw a "pile of people," said juror Jeremy Waggoner, 31, an X-ray technician at Portland Adventist Hospital.

"One could hear the thump or the echo of when the officer fell on Chasse," juror Beck said.

Because the majority of the witnesses said they saw an officer fall on Chasse, the jurors found that to be the most likely cause of the injury. Further, the medical examiner pointed out the damage to the chest was to such a broad area, and the rib fractures were in such a "linear position" that it was not practical that the fatal injuries were caused by kicks or punches.

Dr. William Brady, a former state medical examiner was the final witness called to testify at the Chasse family's request. Three jurors interviewed said he was reluctant to pinpoint the action that caused the fatal injuries and didn't discredit Gunson's autopsy. Brady did point out, however, that Chasse's pulse would not have been normal after having had his ribs fractured and lung punctured.

Jurors puzzled by medics

Why the ambulance medics found Chasse's vital signs normal remains a mystery, jurors said.

"Nobody could explain it," Tierheimer said.

Beck said he struggled to understand how Chasse could be yelling and screaming after having suffered such serious rib injuries. "To me, that was the biggest question," Beck said.

Jurors said they were told by the medical examiner that someone in a psychotic state may not have the same pain threshold as expected. The jurors found that Chasse did not display a normal reaction to his injuries, Beck said. He said that might have been the reason Chasse's struggle with police went on for as long as it did, because he didn't seem to be fazed by numerous police "pain compliance" techniques.

"He was yelling, kicking, still fighting," Beck said. "He was not reacting in a way consistent with those injuries."

The jurors found the officers followed their training. After hearing from Portland Police Bureau training officers, the jurors found that officers were justified in punching and kicking Chasse after he bit one officer and tried to bite another, the jurors said.

"I felt everything the police did followed their protocol," Waggoner said. "Their actions were all a reaction to Chasse's actions."

Some jurors said they wondered whether the injuries may have occurred at another time, but there was no evidence provided to support that theory. They watched a video of Chasse being led into jail and found nothing of concern.

Most disturbing to jurors, however, was the lack of medical care or evaluation provided once Chasse was taken to jail. The jail nurse testified that her sole duty was to determine whether Chasse was medically fit to be booked. Chasse was in an isolation cell, and, moments before the nurse was called, seemed to go unconscious in front of Portland Officer Christopher Humphreys.

The jail nurse testified that she saw Chasse through a cell door window and spotted open sores on his legs. She believed he was septic and determined he was unacceptable for booking. She also told jurors that it's common for inmates to fake seizures, jurors said. She didn't think he needed immediate care and had the officers take him to Portland Adventist Hospital, the hospital the county contracts with for care of jail suspects.

Jurors asked why an ambulance wasn't called. "She said the policy is 'that they leave how they come in,' " Beck said. "My personal feeling was you didn't really evaluate him so how can you make that call? There should be some actual medical evaluation."

Sheriff responds

Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto said he agrees that the jail must adopt stricter procedures on who is medically evaluated, how that evaluation will be done, and how staff determine whether an ambulance should be called.

"The fact is that officers in patrol vehicles were never meant to be transporting seriously injured people," Giusto said.

The three jurors interviewed defended their ruling, although some are already feeling the wrath of co-workers or friends. They said they hope some policy changes result.

"We did not feel we were just running through the motions. It was a thorough, open review," Beck said. "Throughout, jurors were saying, 'They should've done this, or they should've done things this way.' "

Waggoner said, "It was a tragic thing that happened. Had they known this guy was schizophrenic, maybe things would have been different."

Rash of police violence shocks

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.

Jerry Schneider
Hillsboro

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.

Sean Doyle
Northwest Portland

Officer Humphreys Witness Statements from 2003

from the Portland Mercury

UPDATE:
It should be noted that while these comments can be interpreted as a “sarcastic jab” at Officer Humphreys, they also represent the profound suffering of the man being beaten, and it would be a shame if he felt that wasn’t recognized. The attorney who supplied the statements, Travis Eiva, got in touch this morning asking that this be made clear. Please note also that the civil suit was settled earlier this year, but originally filed in 2003.

Secondly, to respond to a comment on this post: Wherever this story originated (Eiva posted on Bojack’s blog at the weekend—we tracked him down by phone yesterday), let’s not lose sight of the issue at hand:The city has paid out in the past for the violent misbehavior of the same officer involved in Chasse’s death. Instead of bitching about who spoke first with Eiva, let’s give him credit where it’s due for stepping forward with his information. Otherwise he may feel he should “know better” than to involve himself with the media in future, and that’s no good for anybody. Here endeth my twopence worth.

ORIGINAL POST filed monday 16:26. Guess who these witness statements are about?
From a civil suit filed against the City of Portland earlier this year:

“…what I saw was [a man] laying on the ground being beat. I did not see him struggling. I saw him laying on the ground being beat.” “The guy on the ground was screaming like somebody was going to kill him. I mean, just … and I could hear the whacks of the sticks hitting him. I mean, I figured his ribs were going to be busted up or … I thought they were going to kill him. … And, I mean, I’m in an enclosed house. I could hear it clear across the street. Just “thwack, thwack.” You know. Unquestionable what it is. No doubt in your mind when you hear it.”

I remember seeing [the man] on the ground and more police just showing up and just, and then, I couldn’t see no more. … I just seen dark clothes and arms going up in the air and coming back down. I seen them, they were just coming up and down. Up and down. Up and down. … I heard some … something solid hit wood. That’s what it sounded like to myself. … [And the man] continued to scream for [help from the people who lived in the house]. And he was telling them to stop, and he asked what he did … just pleading.


Thanks to attorney Travis Eiva at Haile Eiva for these—they describe the behaviour, at least in part, of one Officer Christopher Humphreys. If that name sounds familiar, do a Google search for “James Phillip Chasse.”

Cops invited to meditation seminars at huge mental health conference in Portland

The local organizer of a huge, 1000-delegate mental health conference this week in Portland has invited the city’s cops to attend some of the 80 seminars at the Marriott Waterfront hotel on SW Naito. Local organizer Drake Ewbank says outsiders, including off duty coppers would be more than welcome to attend some of the sessions.Blogtown readers and cops, if you’re interested, just show up, or email drake@efn.org for more information. Here are some suggested sessions:
1.”Working to reduce the use of seclusion and restraints,” Howard Trachtman, Thursday Oct 26, 10.30am-11:45am
2.”Meditation: dealing with your stuff,” Ed Knight, Friday Oct 27, 2:00pm-3.15pm
3.”From stigma and discrimination to self determination,” Delphine Brody, Friday Oct 27, 3:45pm-5pm

The conference coincides with Friday’s 7 pm memorial service for James Chasse—at the First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Avenue. Ewbank says: “If the Chasse incident draws attention to what we’re doing, gets the subject into the public discussion, where it’s not been for a long time, that’s good. But it’s sad that many involved in the organization of the conference are going to be spending most of their time organizing a memorial service.”

“Although the Chasse incident is probably not about mental illness,” he continues. “It’s about the police. The real thing it comes down to for us is cops not being trained well enough and lacking the proper control to respond to an incident in a way that is not lethal.”

Cops invited to meditation seminars at huge mental health conference in Portland

from the Portland Mercury

The local organizer of a huge, 1000-delegate mental health conference this week in Portland has invited the city’s cops to attend some of the 80 seminars at the Marriott Waterfront hotel on SW Naito. Local organizer Drake Ewbank says outsiders, including off duty coppers would be more than welcome to attend some of the sessions.Blogtown readers and cops, if you’re interested, just show up, or email drake@efn.org for more information. Here are some suggested sessions:

1.”Working to reduce the use of seclusion and restraints,” Howard Trachtman, Thursday Oct 26, 10.30am-11:45am
2.”Meditation: dealing with your stuff,” Ed Knight, Friday Oct 27, 2:00pm-3.15pm
3.”From stigma and discrimination to self determination,” Delphine Brody, Friday Oct 27, 3:45pm-5pm


The conference coincides with Friday’s 7pm memorial service for James Chasse—at the First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Avenue. Ewbank says: “If the Chasse incident draws attention to what we’re doing, gets the subject into the public discussion, where it’s not been for a long time, that’s good. But it’s sad that many involved in the organization of the conference are going to be spending most of their time organizing a memorial service.”

“Although the Chasse incident is probably not about mental illness,” he continues. “It’s about the police. The real thing it comes down to for us is cops not being trained well enough and lacking the proper control to respond to an incident in a way that is not lethal.”

Monday, October 23, 2006

Officers unfairly burdened dealing with mentally ill

from The Rap Sheet, the newsletter of the Portland Police Association, by Peter Simpson, 360-518-3429

In the month of September, there were two separate officer involved death investigations involving mentally ill persons.

The first was the shooting death of Lukus Glenn who had been threatening his mother with a knife. The second, the in-custody death of James Chasse by means of broad-based blunt force trauma, was ruled an accident by the medical examiner.

Both cases highlight the fact the as police officers, we are often tasked with the difficult job of getting mentally ill persons under control. In many cases, we are expected to accomplish this task without using any kind of force, which simply isn’t possible in many cases.

By now, both of these cases have been tried in the media and hashed over a million times. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t sympathize with the families of both Glenn and Chasse. This includes police officers. But as police officers, we understand the situations much better than the average Joe and we have sympathy for the officers involved and their families as well. This is something that many others don’t understand.

None of the officers involved in either incident went to work that day with a plan to become involved in a deadly force encounter. They just happened, which is often times the nature of police work.

There has been a lot of talk about using alternatives to deadly force. Never mind that police officers in this area, and in particular this city, are some of the best trained in the nation when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill. Never mind that we’ve been given pepper spray, Asp batons, bean bag shotguns and Tasers. Police officers are expected to magically deal with people that nobody else can or wants to deal with and do it without using any physical force. Sometimes… well sometimes that just isn’t realistic.

Read Carole Moore’s story in this issue and you’ll see that the problem of dealing with mentally ill people is a nationwide problem for police officers. The closing of mental health facilities and the outright rejection of medial treatment by hospitals forces the mentally ill onto the street where they are left to fend for themselves.

I remember reading several years ago about some advocates for the mentally ill describing how great it is that many of these people cannot be forced into facilities and they are able to live freely in any neighborhood they like to pursue the American dream.

For some, this arrangement works out fine and they are able to keep themselves stable with the proper medication and utilization of mental health services.

But many others aren’t capable of taking care of themselves at all. They simply need to be told what to do all the time to maintain some sort of normal life. Without that structure, they become victims of crime and fall into deadly spirals that they can’t get out of. I spoke with some of the people who work with Project Respond and they told me that they are seeing an increase in the mentally ill on the streets of Portland and that they are not receiving treatment. Project Respond does outreach to the mentally ill homeless community in Portland and works closely with Portland Police officers.

While the deaths of both Glenn and Chasse are tragic for their families and friends, perhaps the bigger tragedy is that they weren’t receiving the help they needed. Glenn reportedly had attempted suicide in the past and was threatening suicide the night he died. Chasse had been receiving some treatment, but clearly needed something more intensive. Both had families that have spoken out since their deaths but you have to wonder how involved they were prior to their deaths.

What would have happened if the drunk, suicidal, out of control Glenn had not been shot by police and was allowed to reenter his mother’s house, armed with a knife? Would he have passed out? Would he have calmed down and gone to bed? Would he have committed suicide? Would he have killed his mother? Nobody knows these answers and the officers on the scene had to make a split-second decision without the luxury of hindsight. Had they not shot and Glenn had gone into the house and killed his mother, what would the papers be saying then? Chasse’s bizarre behavior made him the subject of police contact and during that contact he ran and fought with officers who unsuccessfully tried to Taser him. The officers appropriately summoned EMS to check Chasse for injuries and only after his release by medical did they transport him to jail where they were told that Chasse would have to go to the hospital. There was little the officers could have done differently to change the outcome of this incident.

Hopefully, the politicians and citizens take a minute and recognize that it’s an unfair burden to put on police officers to handle every encounter with a mentally ill person without using physical force. Hopefully it will start a process in which those politicians and citizens develop a plan to protect these mentally ill persons from the self-destructive behavior that often results in police contact.

The mentally ill and the police officers deserve something better.

Mayor’s statement after Chasse death lacks support

Mayor Tom Potter’s statement on September 25th regarding the death of James Chasse was completely lacking any support for the officers involved in the incident and the detectives charged with investigating the death. I’ve beaten this dead horse before and will beat it again but I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to show support for the job of police officers. I especially don’t understand it with the former police chief and current police commissioner. It could be as simple as a few short statements such as: “I have complete faith in the officers involved in this incident and stand by them one hundred percent as the investigation into the death of James Chasse continues. Unless presented with compelling facts to suggest otherwise, I believe that the police officers actions were justified and that they will be vindicated upon the completion of the investigation. I also have complete support for the detectives in this case who are tasked with the difficult job of investigating the death while under intense community and media pressure.”

No such statement exists though and we are left with this from the Mayor: “I have asked that the investigation into this incident be as public and transparent as possible, and that the community be given the information it needs to understand what happened as quickly as possible.

“There are several legal inquiries already underway to determine precisely what occurred during the arrest, including the possibility of a grand jury, and they each need to move forward as quickly as possible. Any request to conduct a public inquest into this death is a legal determination that only the District Attorney's Office can make, and we will respect whatever he decides and cooperate fully.

“Just as important to me is that we commit to creating a more effective system for delivering mental health services both before and after someone enters our criminal justice system. This is not an issue just for Portland Police, but rather one that calls for a solution that includes our correctional system, medical and mental health providers. I want to work with others who share these concerns to begin making real changes.”

Doesn’t exactly make you feel loved does it? Oh well. “Keep Portland Weird” and stay safe.

Inquest method of review outdated, unnecessary and destructive

from The Rap Sheet, by Portland Police Association President Robert J. King

ORS 146.135 defines a public inquest giving a county’s District Attorney the authority to order an inquest and obtain a jury for the purpose of finding the cause and manner of death. The jury is charged with the task of determining who the deceased was, when and where the deceased person came to death, and the cause and manner of death.

In 25 years there have only been three inquests in Multnomah County. In each case, the officers have never been the same. The result of Multnomah County’s most recent inquest was the resignation of a highly respected officer. We believe in transparency, but not when the price involves a sacrifice on the altar of our community’s failure to understand us, or the reality of the work we do. There must be a more constructive way for officers, the public and in this most recent case the family to have a dialogue. We oppose inquests because they devastate the officers involved. We oppose them because they are fundamentally unfair, unnecessary and harmful to the police officers involved.

We do have confidence in the process currently in place. Within this process we believe the rights of all are respected. It is an investigative and review process second-to-none and we voluntarily cooperate in these investigations.

The current process has layer upon layer of review. Initially detectives gather information which is passed directly to the District Attorney. A Grand Jury is convened. It is pure citizen review and we believe in it. Seven citizens review every facet of the case to decide if there should be criminal charges. The involved officers cannot be compelled to testify before the grand jury, but they do because they have nothing to hide.

An internal review follows the criminal review. This in-depth internal review has been recently updated and improved. It begins with a required Internal Affairs interview of anyone who has information about the facets of the case. Once the investigation is complete, the case goes to the officer’s commander who then recommends findings to two newly created boards. The Performance and Use of Force Review Boards both include citizens. Additionally, each case is reviewed by City Attorneys, the Director of Independent Review, representatives from Human Resources, Commanders, Assistant Chiefs, the Chief and our Commissioner, Mayor Tom Potter. If citizens do not agree with allegation findings they can appeal to the Independent Review Division, Citizen Review Committee. The City’s auditor, an independently elected city official, oversees this committee.

We voluntarily cooperate and participate in each process. Along with citizens, we believe in and support transparency. Our process is probably more citizen interactive and responsive than any other I know of.

We expect our actions to be reviews with the purpose of ensuring compliance with all Laws, Bureau Rules and Orders.

We expect that.

We have a problem when, after high profile cases like the recent in custody death, media and single-issue special interest groups request inquests.

The in-custody death of Mr. Chasse is a tragedy and, yes, as the Chief reported, the officers are devastated. But we cannot step on to a playing field where our split second decisions are made political and we are assumed to be guilty and presumed wrong. It is fundamentally unfair. There is no scenario where we would support an inquest. We are responsible for our actions under the law and policies of our Bureau. The current process does get at the truth about what happened without creating a public spectacle or worse, creating a scapegoat.

We can have no confidence in a process that was created over a hundred years ago to determine basic questions such as the identity of the deceased, when and where the death occurred, and the manner and cause of death. These questions have already been answered. A member of the DA’s office said, “the inquest is a clumsy tool that is poorly designed to accomplish public oversight”.

In this case The Oregonian’s Editorial Board demands an inquest with the purpose of placing the blame on officers while ignoring the broader context officers cannot avoid.

There editorial concludes it “should not have happened” which only demonstrates their ignorance to the realities street officers are tasked with responding to. Without knowing all the facts they conclude we need more training and need to be taught to be “smarter, safer and low key”. They conclude by finding fault and insulting all officers by saying “it would be better for everyone-the officers, the community-if the police really knew what to do”. With that as the context and the stage we are expected to walk onto we can never have confidence our actions will be reviewed fairly.

Chasse case: officer’s photo posted saying “STOP ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN”


This poster of Sergeant Kyle Nice — one of the officers involved in the death of James Phillip Chasse on September 17 — has been wheat pasted to a pole on the corner of NE Shaver and Vancouver.

If you’ve seen any more of these, let us know: news@portlandmercury.com.

We Are Killers

from the Portland Mercury

Here’s a second poster related to the Chasse case—copies of it are wheatpasted all over N and NE Portland, including this one slapped on a No Parking sign along MLK.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - 10/23/06

from The Oregonian

Appeasing the Pearl

The legal system appears to be working quite well for the police officers who brutally assaulted and killed James P. Chasse Jr. for possibly urinating in the Pearl District. After all, protecting the right of yuppies not to get grossed out while they are dining is a top priority.

Pity Chasse didn't have access to the same system. Apparently in Portland, due process doesn't apply if one is poor, has a mental illness or somehow fails to fit in with "nice" white, middle-class society.

GRACE HAGUE
Southeast Portland

Officers unfairly burdened dealing with mentally ill

from the Portland Police Union's newsletter The Rap Sheet
October 2006
by Detective Peter Simpson - Tactical Operations Division, 360-518-3429


In the month of September, there were two separate officer involved death investigations involving mentally ill persons. The first was the shooting death of Lukus Glenn who had been threatening his mother with a knife. The second, the in-custody death of James Chasse by means of broad-based blunt force trauma, was ruled an accident by the medical examiner.

Both cases highlight the fact the as police officers, we are often tasked with the difficult job of getting mentally ill persons under control. In many cases, we are expected to accomplish this task without using any kind of force, which simply isn’t possible in many cases.

By now, both of these cases have been tried in the media and hashed over a million times. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t sympathize with the families of both Glenn and Chasse. This includes police officers. But as police officers, we understand the situations much better than the average Joe and we have sympathy for the officers involved and their families as well. This is something that many others don’t understand.

None of the officers involved in either incident went to work that day with a plan to become involved in a deadly force encounter. They just happened, which is often times the nature of police work.

There has been a lot of talk about using alternatives to deadly force. Never mind that police officers in this area, and in particular this city, are some of the best trained in the nation when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill. Never mind that we’ve been given pepper spray, Asp batons, bean bag shotguns and Tasers. Police officers are expected to magically deal with people that nobody else can or wants to deal with and do it without using any physical force. Sometimes… well sometimes that just isn’t realistic.

Read Carole Moore’s story in this issue and you’ll see that the problem of dealing with mentally ill people is a nationwide problem for police officers. The closing of mental health facilities and the outright rejection of medial treatment by hospitals forces the mentally ill onto the street where they are left to fend for themselves.

I remember reading several years ago about some advocates for the mentally ill describing how great it is that many of these people cannot be forced into facilities and they are able to live freely in any neighborhood they like to pursue the American dream.

For some, this arrangement works out fine and they are able to keep themselves stable with the proper medication and utilization of mental health services. But many others aren’t capable of taking care of themselves at all. They simply need to be told what to do all the time to maintain some sort of normal life. Without that structure, they become victims of crime and fall into deadly spirals that they can’t get out of.

I spoke with some of the people who work with Project Respond and they told me that they are seeing an increase in the mentally ill on the streets of Portland and that they are not receiving treatment. Project Respond does outreach to the mentally ill homeless community in Portland and works closely with Portland Police officers.

While the deaths of both Glenn and Chasse are tragic for their families and friends, perhaps the bigger tragedy is that they weren’t receiving the help they needed. Glenn reportedly had attempted suicide in the past and was threatening suicide the night he died. Chasse had been receiving some treatment, but
clearly needed something more intensive. Both had families that have spoken out since their deaths but you have to wonder how involved they were prior to their deaths.

What would have happened if the drunk, suicidal, out of control Glenn had not been shot by police and was allowed to reenter his mother’s house, armed with a knife? Would he have passed out? Would he have calmed down and gone to bed? Would he have committed suicide? Would he have killed his mother?

Nobody knows these answers and the officers on the scene had to make a split-second decision without the luxury of hindsight. Had they not shot and Glenn had gone into the house and killed his mother, what would the papers be saying then? Chasse’s bizarre behavior made him the subject of police contact and during that contact he ran and fought with officers who unsuccessfully tried to Taser him.

The officers appropriately summoned EMS to check Chasse for injuries and only after his release by medical did they transport him to jail where they were told that Chasse would have to go to the hospital. There was little the officers could have done differently to change the outcome of this incident.

Hopefully, the politicians and citizens take a minute and recognize that it’s an unfair burden to put on police officers to handle every encounter with a mentally ill person without using physical force. Hopefully it will start a process in which those politicians and citizens develop a plan to protect these mentally ill persons from the self-destructive behavior that often results in police contact.

The mentally ill and the police officers deserve something better.

Mayor’s statement after Chasse death lacks support

Mayor Tom Potter’s statement on September 25th regarding the death of James Chasse was completely lacking any support for the officers involved in the incident and the detectives charged with investigating the death. I’ve beaten this dead horse before and will beat it again but I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to show support for the job of police officers. I especially don’t understand it with the former police chief and current police commissioner.

It could be as simple as a few short statements such as: “I have complete faith in the officers involved in this incident and stand by them one hundred percent as the investigation into the death of James Chasse continues.

Unless presented with compelling facts to suggest otherwise, I believe that the police officers actions were justified and that they will be vindicated upon the completion of the investigation. I also have complete support for the detectives in this case who are tasked with the difficult job of investigating the death while under intense community and media pressure.”

No such statement exists though and we are left with this from the Mayor: “I have asked that the investigation into this incident be as public and transparent as possible, and that the community be
given the information it needs to understand what happened as quickly as possible.

“There are several legal inquiries already underway to determine precisely what occurred during the arrest, including the possibility of a grand jury, and they each need to move forward as quickly as possible.
Any request to conduct a public inquest into this death is a legal determination that only the District Attorney's Office can make, and we will respect whatever he decides and cooperate fully.

“Just as important to me is that we commit to creating a more effective system for delivering mental health services both before and after someone enters our criminal justice system. This is not an issue just for Portland Police, but rather one that calls for a solution that includes our correctional system, medical and mental health providers. I want to work with others who share these concerns to begin making real changes.”

Doesn’t exactly make you feel loved does it? Oh well. “Keep Portland Weird” and stay safe.

Portland Police Bureau officers carry unfair burden

from The Rap Sheet - Chief Sizer’s statement to the media following the in-custody death of James Chasse. Editor’s Note: These statements were read to the media by Chief Sizer. Only a fraction of them were reported in the mainstream media.

“Detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances of officers’ contact with James Chasse and his death. They have interviewed all police personnel involved, many witnesses, jail personnel. Physical evidence has been examined. Medical records will be subpoenaed.

“The Police Bureau has a duty and an obligation to fully investigate this matter and we are doing so.

“I am committed to releasing as much information as we can about this incident and as soon as possible. This will include a timeline and statements by the officers, witnesses, and others.

“I think that it is important that the community knows that the officers involved are devastated by Mr. Chasse’s death.

“Finally, I think it is important to understand the larger context of this incident. This larger context is a burden that police officers carry with them each and every day. They carry this burden to an extent unprecedented in my twenty-one year tenure in the Police Bureau.

Our mental health are system is inadequate. When the Multnomah County jail system is the largest provider of treatment to the mentally ill in the State of Oregon, you know the system will break down.

Although some strides have been made in the last few years, statistics show that they are more homeless people on the streets of Portland than ever before.

Recent cuts to the Corrections Health system have created confusion about who will be accepted into the jail and under what circumstances. “Within this larger context, I can think of few jobs that are more important, more difficult and more subject to scrutiny than that of a street police officer.

“We will rigorously examine our actions, our policies, training and procedures.

“I ask Portlanders to examine if our safety nets for the disadvantaged meet their needs and our community’s expectations.”

Pot shots from the armchair QB’s

from The Rap Sheet, the newsletter of the Portland Police Association, by Captain James Harvey, Retired

It’s happened again, only this time it was Washington County Sheriff’s deputies taking the hits from the media. In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 16, 2006, deputies were called to an address outside of Tigard where parents called 9-1-1 to report their 18 year-old son was drunk, violent, and threatening to kill everybody.

When the deputies arrived, shortly after 3:00 a.m., they found Lukus Glenn in the front yard of his home where he had broken out windows with a shovel and his hands, which were bleeding. He was holding a knife, and refused orders to drop it. Three bean bag rounds were fired by a Tigard officer who covered the call, without any effect. Glenn turned toward his house, and officers, fearing for the safety of those inside, fired their weapons, killing the man.

People … who are unwilling to call the police should call The Oregonian office, whatever the hour of day or night, and insist that they send Steve Duin and Maxine Bernstein to the scene immediately to deal with the violence. They apparently have all the answers for effective conflict resolution.
We’ve seen the media in action before. The only thing missing this time was the circus usually caused by self-anointed community spokespersons ranting about racial profiling and demanding that the officers be fired.

The Oregonian’s Maxine Bernstein hit the ground running on this one. Her article appeared in Monday’s paper. It was her usual approach. Get to the grieving mother and pump her dry. Lukus Glenn had been a football player at Tigard High School, recently quit a part-time job, went to dinner and a party Friday night, and came home drunk. Then she zeros in on Glenn’s 22 year-old friend who arrived on the scene before the deputies arrived. He gave Bernstein his account of the shooting in some detail.

The Oregonian’s Steve Duin wasn’t far behind. His commentary appeared in Tuesday’s Metro Section. In the opening of his piece, Duin had pronounced his judgment: “The sheriff’s deputies from Washington County, armed with an attitude all their own, were high on adrenaline and low on patience.” He goes on to present what he calls “a few nagging questions.” Duin’s lengthy piece concludes with the slam, “After the death of Lukus Glenn, what mother or father would expect help to arrive with the sheriff’s deputies of Washington County?”

Oddly enough, next to Duin’s rant, a transcription of the 9-1-1 recording gives a clear account of the seriousness of the situation, including the fact that Lukus Glenn threatened to kill everybody, and had already “busted” the front door so the family couldn’t lock him out. This, Mr. Duin, is a nasty situation. From the record printed in The Oregonian, there was an “attitude” already present on the Glenn premises before the officers arrived, and it belonged to the young man who was smashing up his parents’ home and cars.

About the only source supporting the officers’ actions at this time was radio talk-show host Lars Larson. Playing hardball with some of his callers, Larson continually took the position that when officers tell you to put down a weapon, that is exactly what should be done. Later callers with law enforcement experience contributed facts about the use of Tasers and other non-lethal means and supported Larson.

By Thursday, Steve Duin dropped his attack on police officers and became the bearer of good news. It seems he learned in an interview with Officer Paul Ware that the Portland Police Bureau and other departments have a voluntary 40- hour training program in crisis intervention. However, Duin’s new commentary fell short of being an apology for the stinging remarks in his earlier piece.

The investigation into the death of Lukus Glenn continues at this writing. Certainly people who were with him on that fatal night will be able to shed some light on his state of mind, his behavior during the night, and what substances he might have ingested before he became violent.

Some of the letters to the editor come from well meaning but naive citizens. The social environment within our country has changed drastically in the past 40 years. The conventional wisdom in police circles in the 1950s was that “professional criminals don’t want to kill a cop. They would do hard time for that.” But both society and crime have changed. Drugs, automatic weapons, and gang warfare have made police work drastically more dangerous. Officer survival training and bulletproof vests for police officers have become necessities in today’s world. Then on Sunday, September 24, The Oregonian published an exceptionally thorough and objective account of the Lukus Glenn shooting. The piece carried the by-lines of Kate Taylor and Dana Tims. Somebody at the paper apparently decided that a change in direction was in order.

What about Steve Duin’s question in his opening attack? “What mother or father would expect help to arrive with the sheriff’s deputies of Washington County?” The answer seems obvious. People with a violent family confrontation who are unwilling to call the police should call The Oregonian office, whatever the hour of day or night, and insist that they send Steve Duin and Maxine Bernstein to the scene immediately to deal with the violence. They apparently have all the answers for effective conflict resolution.

Lessons Learned

1. Today the mainstream media often cover events with a bias that may reveal a personal or even organizational slant which should not be confused by the public with an objective account of what actually happened.

2. When there were two daily papers in Portland, there was a chance for greater care in reporting facts, since the opposing newspaper may challenge the work done by the other. What ever happened to the Oregon Journal?