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What Happened to James Chasse: Man Claims Cops Retaliated Over Free Speech

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Man Claims Cops Retaliated Over Free Speech

from the Portland Mercury

Reader: Are you sensing a pattern, here? As I mentioned earlier, three people filed lawsuits today against the Portland Police Bureau, and one person has filed a tort claim. Here’s the second of the quartet:

Richard Prentice filed a tort claim today, laying the ground to file a full-blown lawsuit. Prentice is the man arrested and intimidated in a holding cell in June for putting up anti-cop posters downtown (“Thought Police,” News, June 28). Prentice wants an apology from the officers involved, and unspecified financial compensation for the violation of his constitutional rights.

VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHTS: Richard Prentice (left) with girlfriend, Susannah Thiel (center) outside the Gus Solomon courthouse this afternoon…

Prentice’s posters featured the three officers implicated in the death last September of James Chasse—a schizophrenic beaten to death for taking a leak in the Pearl District. Prentice was arrested and intimidated in a holding cell by two of those officers, one of whom, Kyle Nice, later emailed the Mercury essentially confessing to having intimidated Prentice for calling him a “murderer” in his posters.

Prentice’s posters were used last week by the City Attorney as a reason to keep certain information about the officers involved in Chasse’s death a secret from the press: “We have the info that there’s an element in the community that goes around putting up posters of heavy-caliber Smith & Wesson pistols pointing at police,” said Deputy City Attorney James Rice—even though in fact, Prentice did not put up such a poster, thinking better of it. Nice had to fish through his bag back at Central Precinct in order to pull it out, before scanning it and emailing us a copy.

The only poster Prentice actually put up looked like this.

Asked whether he expects the officers involved to apologize for the way he was treated, Prentice says: “It would be a first in the history of the Police Bureau.”

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