Comment on Chasse Settlement from the police chief

PRESS RELEASE – May 11, 2010

The following is a statement from Police Chief Rosie Sizer about a tentative settlement in the death of James Chasse Jr., who died in police custody in 2006.

Nearly four years ago, James Chasse died in the custody of Portland Police officers. I and members of my organization felt horrible about his death. The Portland Police Bureau has spent the last three years identifying what went wrong and fixing those issues through improvements in policy, training and practice.

I am relieved by the settlement of this case. And I believe that the Chasse family deserves compensation for their loss. I hope that James Chasse’s family also takes some comfort in the changes that the Portland Police has made. I believe that the settlement will help to bring closure to all involved parties as well as the community.

As Chief of Police, I have been frustrated by my inability to address this matter publicly due to the ongoing litigation. I believe that the Portland Police Bureau and the individual officers have been unfairly demonized. James Chasse’s death was a horrible accident and not a “beating death.” That’s what the Bureau’s investigation showed, and nothing in the litigation proved otherwise. The independent witnesses do not describe a rain of blows by Portland Police officers. The medical experts did not agree that the cause of death was the result of a beating. James Chasse’s death was an accident, a terrible, tragic accident.