DA’s office set to tackle Humphreys case

Norm Frink

Norm Frink

From the Portland Tribune, November 20, 2008

Schrunk’s top assistant, “Maximum” Norm Frink, has said his office will criminally review whether officer Christopher Humphreys lied to detectives. But it’s an open question about what that means.

A jail video released last month shows that on the night James Chasse Jr., died following an altercation with police, Humphreys can be heard in the jail booking area saying “we tackled him” and “he fell hard.” However, the officer’s account that night seems at odds with what he told detectives three days later: that Humphreys did not tackle Chasse, did not land on him and could not recall how Chasse fell.

If a case against a police or corrections officer cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the district attorney’s office sometimes decides to essentially pronounce allegations false even if the evidence is just inconclusive. That’s what happened earlier this year with a county corrections officer, David B. Thompson, who’d bragged of brutality online, only to have a prosecutor call it “puffing or boasting.”

That sort of thing will be more difficult in the current case. That’s because Humphreys’ initial, videotaped account is consistent with the medical evidence, eyewitness statements, and the bureau’s official version that Chasse’s injuries were caused by Humphreys’ landing on the man.