Police Union Prez: Board Cleared Chasse Cops, but Sizer Still Mum

James Chasse

James Chasse

From the Willamette Week, December 9 2008

The newly elected police union president, Sgt. Scott Westerman, tells WW that the Police Bureau’s Use of Force Review Board has ruled that the officers involved in the death of James Chasse Jr. did not violate Bureau policy.

The decision of the board, which comprises both cops and civilians, has not yet been made public even though the board reviewed the evidence in the case in early October. The board then handed its ruling to Police Chief Rosie Sizer.

But more than two years after Chasse died and weeks after the use-of-force board cleared the officers, Sizer still hasn’t made her own recommendation on whether to discipline the officers, despite pressure from the union to make her decision known, Westerman says.

Westerman says since he was elected in October he’s had “continuous” conversations with Sizer urging her to make her recommendation.

“All she’ll tell me is: ‘The timing is not right,’ ” Westerman says.

The next step is for Sizer to decide whether to discipline any of the officers, and if so, what that discipline should be. She hands her ruling to Mayor Tom Potter, who oversees the Police Bureau.

Potter, who would make the final decision, leaves office in January, and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman will then take over as police commissioner. It’s worth noting that Potter made the extremely rare move of overruling Sizer’s recommendation on discipline when he fired Lt. Jeff Kaer last year. Sizer had recommended a suspension instead, and Kaer later got his badge back in arbitration.

Also complicating matters is a video released by the Chasse family’s attorney that the attorney says reveals conflicting statements made by Officer Christopher Humphreys about how he took Chasse to the ground. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has now re-opened its investigation into possible wrongdoing by the cops.

Sizer is on vacation and did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment on Westerman’s statement.