Agencies to call for resignation of Portland officers involved in Chasse’s arrest

From the Oregonian, October 7, 2009

Representatives of the Mental Health Association of Portland, along with three other agencies, tomorrow are scheduled to call for the resignation of the three officers who had contact with James P. Chasse Jr. before his death in police custody.

Speakers from the Mental Health Association of Portland, along with members of Disability Rights Oregon, the Albina Ministerial Alliance, and Mental Health America of Oregon, are scheduled to speak out at 9 a.m. at the offices of Disability Rights Oregon.

“Our city administrators and leaders have demonstrated they lack the political will to enforce accountability on this issue,” said Jason Renaud, a volunteer with the Mental Health Association of Portland. “We have more confidence that the officers will voluntarily resign than that the City will terminate their employment. And we hope they do.”

The groups will be calling for the resignation of Portland Sgt. Kyle Nice, Officers Christopher Humphreys and Bret Burton.

A Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by the officers in Chasse’s death on Sept. 17, 2006, and Chief Rosie Sizer found only Sgt. Nice violated bureau policy that night, by not ensuring that Nice had Chasse taken to a hospital after he was stunned by a Taser.

Police said the officers thought Chasse was urinating in the street and stopped him, then chased him and knocked him down and struggled with him.

Chasse, 42, who had schizophrenia, died after he was taken into custody from broad-based blunt-force trauma to the chest. An autopsy showed he suffered 26 breaks to 16 ribs, some of which punctured his left lung; 46 separate abrasions or contusions on his body, including six to the head; and 19 strikes to the torso.

The city is preparing for a March trial in federal court resulting from a civil lawsuit Chasse’s family filed. It accuses officers of excessive force and the police and paramedics of failing to provide adequate medical attention. Multnomah County this summer settled its part of the lawsuit for $925,000.

Sgt. Scott Westerman, president of the Portland Police Association, said he’s disturbed Renaud continues to focus on these three officers, because he said any officers would have taken the same action that night, based on their training and police policies.