Multnomah Co. approves $925,000 Chasse settlement

From /, July 2 2009

The Multnomah County Commission voted to pay the family of James Chasse $925,000 as a settlement to a civil lawsuit filed over the mentally ill man’s death in police custody.

Chasse died while in police custody after an encounter with police in Old Town on September 17, 2006.

Officers said Chasse appeared to be urinating outdoors and when he tried to get away they tackled him.

Medics were called to the scene and Chasse showed normal vital signs, then officers took him to the Multnomah County Detention Center according to officers.

According to the autopsy report, a nurse at the jail advised officers to take Chasse to the hospital. Police said he died as they were transporting him there, according to the report.

Autopsy: 26 rib fractures

The autopsy revealed that Chasse suffered 26 rib fractures and a punctured lung. The autopsy concluded the death was caused by blunt force trauma to the chest.

Investigators in October 2008 examined video taken from the jail during the incident.

The video of officers talking at the jail after they brought Chasse in shows Officer Christopher Humphreys telling a sheriff’s deputy that “we tackled him” and Chasse landed “hard.” As Humphreys is heard telling jail staff that the officers tackled Chasse, his partner is seen showing a “bear-hug” stance.

No charges for officers

Earlier in 2009, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office decided not to prosecute a Officer Humphries.

Dr. Karen Gunson of the state medical examiner’s office said that from a medical examiner’s point of view, the officers involved did not know Chasse would die based on their actions.

The death led to new procedural training for officers.

Two officers and a sheriff’s deputy were cleared of wrongdoing in 2007.

Settlement won’t stop other lawsuits

The proposed $925,000 settlement was in response to a civil suit filed against the city by the Chasse family.

The settlement did not affect other family claims against Portland Police Bureau officers Christopher Humphreys and Kyle Nice, Chief Rosie Sizer or former Mayor Tom Potter.