Portland OK’s $1.6 Million Over Death In Police Custody


Outside consultants shared with the Portland City Council the gaps and unasked questions in the police investigation of James P. Chasse Jr.’s death in custody after the council approved a settlement of $1.6 million, the city’s largest, in a federal suit, The Oregonian reports. Police Chief Mike Reese apologized for Chasse’s death and said officers must do their jobs in a “more thoughtful and collaborative manner” with outside agencies. He called the three-year delay in the police internal review “completely unacceptable.”

The chief said he agreed with the majority of the 27 recommendations offered by the California-based OIR Group and hoped they would help mend the rift between the bureau and the community. The report recommended a range of reforms, among them requiring police to conduct face-to-face interviews with civilian witnesses and sending internal affairs investigators out to a scene immediately. The attorney who brought the wrongful-death lawsuit against the city for Chasse’s family said the consultants’ report got facts wrong and overlooked the bureau’s systemic failure to hold its officers and supervisors accountable. On Sept. 17, 2006, police thought Chasse, 42, who had schizophrenia, might have urinated in the street and tried to stop him. They chased him and knocked him to the ground, then wrestled with him to arrest him. The county jail refused to book him because of his medical condition. He died in police custody en route to a hospital.

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