Council approves $1.6 million Chasse settlement

The Portland Tribune, July 27, 2010

The City Council approved the largest settlement in a police-related case in Portland history on Wednesday.

The council voted 4-0 to authorize a $1.6 million settlement with the family of James Chasse Jr., the schizophrenic man who died after being injured while he was arrested on Sept. 17, 2006. Commissioner Dan Saltzman was home sick.

Explaining his vote, Adams apologized to the Chasse family for the death and the delay in resolving the case.

“This settlement was years in the making,” Adams said. “It took way too long.”

Chasse died while being transported to a hospital after the Multnomah County Justice Center Jail refused to book him because of his medical condition. The medical examiner concluded that Chasse died as a result of multiple internal injuries, including fractured ribs that punctured one lung.

A Multnomah County grand jury declined to charge anyone involved in the arrest with a crime. A Portland police sergeant and an officer were subsequently suspended for not ensuring that Chasse received proper medical attention. The police union is appealing the suspensions.

The Chasse family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the city, Multnomah County and medical personal that responded to the arrest scene in Northwest Portland.

Although the county and ambulance company settled with the family more than a year ago, the city continued fighting the lawsuit until mid-April, when U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken mediated an agreement with the family.

An independent review of the incident commissioned by the city auditor’s office faulted the police bureau on several aspects of its criminal and internal affairs investigations into the incident, including the amount of time it took to conclude them.

The report, by the OIR Group, was scheduled to be presented to the council Wednesday evening. It recommends several policy and procedural changes for future deadly force and in-custody death changes, most of which Police Chief Mike Reese has endorsed.