Portland Police Bureau releases witness statements in Chasse case

From the Portland Tribune, November 9, 2006

The Portland Police Bureau on Friday released its records on the controversial in-custody death of James Chasse Jr. on Sept. 17.

Among the hundreds of pages of records are interviews with civilian witnesses – transcribed verbatim – that illustrate what the events across from the Pearl District restaurant Bluehour looked like to those without police training and experience.

Though the Chasse family obtained investigators’ interviews with the officers involved in the incident that led to Chasse’s death, and though they released them to reporters Oct. 18, the day after a Multnomah County grand jury cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing, this is the first time the statements of other witnesses has been made public.

These are excerpts from one of four transcribed civilian witness interviews conducted by Portland police detectives between Sept. 24 and Oct. 4. To read the entire interview, click the link at the bottom of this story.

Justin Soltani, 34, a computer consultant, lives in the Pearl. Portland police Detective Jon Rhodes interviewed him Sept. 24 over the phone.

When Soltani first saw Chasse, Soltani was in his car. Chasse stood upright, apparently looking for change in a parking meter. Portland police officer Christopher Humphreys and Multnomah County deputy sheriff Brad Burton pulled over hard in front of Soltani on Northwest Everett Street between 13th and 14th avenues, near the restaurant Bluehour. Humphreys wore a police bureau baseball cap.

The cops walk toward Chasse, telling him to stand still. Chasse started walking away.

SOLTANI: And they yelled stop and initially, I mean initially I thought he was mentally retarded.

RHODES: Um-hm.

SOLTANI: Cause he was just walking and screaming. Um, he just started screaming and started running down towards the Blue Hour, between 13th and 14th, between 14th and 13th. …

RHODES: So, so the guy starts to, uh, he’s, is he running away from them did you say or is he walking away from them at that point.

SOLTANI: He, he wasn’t, he, he couldn’t run.

RHODES: Um-hm.

SOLTANI: I mean, when you saw him, I definitely thought he was mentally retarded because of the way he was yelling.

RHODES: What was he …

SOLTANI: The screams.

RHODES: Could you tell what he was yelling and screaming?

SOLTANI: Well he was just kind of like, ewrrrrrr.

RHODES: Yeah. Okay.

SOLTANI: Uh, yeah, probably something like a Wookie, uh.

Chasse starts running, and the officers chase him. Another police car whizzes by, pulling in front of Bluehour at a 45-degree angle.

SOLTANI: And it stopped there and then two officers chase him down and the guy with the hat on, just tackled him down.


SOLTANI: And then another, then the Multnomah County, the guy, the sheriff in the green showed up and then …

RHODES: Um-hm.

SOLTANI: There was a sergeant also.

Later, that sergeant would be identified as Kyle Nice.

Rhodes asked Soltani how Humphreys brought Chasse down, whether Chasse fell or whether Humphreys forced him to the ground.

RHODES: Okay, so um, you see the officer, you see the guy fall to the ground and did this, could you see whether or not the officer that was chasing him fell on him as well or could you see that part?

SOLTANI: Yes he, when he went down on him, when he went down on him …

RHODES: … Um-hm …

SOLTANI: He pretty much, the guy was done and he was, the officer was half-twisted on him.


SOLTANI: And he was trying to hold him down and then the other officers, um, joined in.


SOLTANI: Trying to, to restrain him. …

Chasse fought and squirmed, screaming the whole time, as Soltani went to park his car. He heard officers yelling for Chasse to stop moving.

Soltani said he never saw Burton use his Taser, though Burton did, and he also never saw Chasse bite Nice and try to bite Humphreys, which other witnesses did.

When Soltani walked back to the scene, Chasse still wrestled with officers but was in handcuffs.

He saw Humphreys walk up to Chasse several times, still charged from the struggle. …

SOLTANI: The officer with the hat kept walking away from him, kept coming closer and he was, he was with his fore-fingers, fore and middle fingers kept poking the guy in the head. The (officer) just kept poking him in the head, just tapping him on the head. …

RHODES: Like he’s what, trying to, could you tell what he was saying while he was doing that?

SOLTANI: He was saying something but I couldn’t hear …


SOLTANI: And he just kept tapping him on the forehead and that’s what got me a little upset.

RHODES: Tapping him?

SOLTANI: Yes, because, it, it, it was just no reason for it.

RHODES: Okay, was he like, did it seem like he was trying to get his attention or was he?

SOLTANI: I think he was, I mean it was just, to me, it, it was just like an adrenaline rush and he just couldn’t get off of.

RHODES: Right.

SOLTANI: And he kept walking back away from the suspect, kept coming back to him and he kept tapping him on the head.

RHODES: Uh-huh

SOLTANI: And another officer showed up and he came over and put his foot on the guys leg and he just stood there. And then just a couple, and then the guy was still screaming …

RHODES: … Okay, still screaming, okay.

SOLTANI: Yeah, and then an officer came in front of me and I couldn’t see anymore, but just something happened and the guy just, just stopped moving.


SOLTANI: He just, I mean he just, just stopped.

RHODES: Could you tell what was going on when he all of a sudden just stopped screaming and stopped moving?

SOLTANI: No, I, I, I thought he was dead.

Nice called for emergency medical personnel, then stepped back, near where Soltani stood. The sergeant asked Soltani whether he was concerned about what he witnessed.

SOLTANI: and I said yes, and he goes well would you like to discuss it now? I said I‘d rather wait for you to finish and I can call you.

[Kyle] Nice was out of business cards, but wrote his name and number of a piece of police-notebook paper and asked Soltani to call the next day.

Soltani did not.

RHODES: Well, this is just as good, actually probably better ‘cause um, you know it’s be, since he was involved it’s much better that you actually um, talk to us. …

Soltani saw paramedics check Chasse’s blood-pressure, shine a flashlight in his eyes. Then he saw a paramedic give the “all clear that he was fine.”

SOLTANI: And they just, just left, walked away from him …

RHODES: … Okay …

SOLTANI: And the guy was still just lying there not moving. …

RHODES: … Is he saying anything at that point?

SOLTANI: No, he was just, he was silent …

SOLTANI: And then um, my um, reaction then I turned to Sergeant Nice and said it sounds like a busy day …

RHODES: (laughs) yeah.

SOLTANI: And so he goes oh he’s not dead. And I said no I meant are you having a busy day ‘cause you know for a Sunday I don’t know what’s going on. You shouldn’t be here, be out in church or having a vac … it, it’s been busy. … And, and the entire Blue Hour was sitting there drinking and watching.

Related documents
Transcript of interview with Pearl District resident Justin Soltani (PDF document – 6.3MB, 31 pages )
Transcript of taped interview with Portland police officer Christopher Humphreys, p. 12 (emphasis belongs to Chasse family attorney Tom Steenson)
Transcript of taped interview with Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brad Burton, p. 39
Transcript of taped interview with Portland police officer Kyle Nice, p. 19
Transcript of taped interview with Portland police officer Kyle Nice, p. 20
Police fact sheet on the incident
Police presentation describing the timeline of the incident
District Attorney’s letter describing the grand jury decision
Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer’s statement about the grand jury decision
Police review process

Related stories:
When cops use force, Oct. 31
As Chasse controversy deepens, cops have yet to release key documents, Oct. 19
Officer’s statements conflict with police account of in-custody death, Oct. 18
Grand jury exonerates officers in Chasse death, Oct. 17
Chasse family hires expert witness to testify before grand jury, Oct. 16, 2006
Chasse grand jury decision expected soon, Oct 15, 2006
Chasse grand jury still out, Oct 10, 2006
Potter plans Chasse death follow-up committee, Oct 9, 2006
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Jim Chasse in 1980
James Chasse was attacked and beaten to death by Multnomah County Sheriff deputy Bret Burton, Portland Police officer Christopher Humphreys and Portland Police Sargent Kyle Nice on September 17, 2006.

Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk failed to secure indictments against the officers. The officers involved are all back on duty.

The Chasse family is represented by Tom Steenson. You can contact Mr. Steenson through his web site.

This blog has no connection to Mr. Steenson or the Chasse family.

The purpose of this blog is to collect and preserve what happened to James Chasse in one permanent and easily accessible location.

Articles and documents are presented as found. If you have something which pertains and is not posted here, send it to info@oregonarchive.org

A documentary film is being made about what happened to James Chasse. You can learn about it on the Alien Boy web site.
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James Chasse at 17

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Transcripts of Citizen Witnesses of Chasse Killing – PDF files

Alireza Justin Soltani – interview summary by Detective Jon Rhodes, 10.01.2006
Alireza Justin Soltani – taped statement transcription, 9.24.2006
Ann Stevenson & David Lillegaard – interview summary by Detective Lynn Courtney, 10.05.2006
Benjamin Persyn – interview summary by Detective Jon Rhodes, conducted 10.2.2006
Constance Doolan – interview summary by Detective Lynn Courtney, 10.03.2006
Constance Doolan – taped statement transcription, 9.23.2006
Diane Loghry – interview summary by Detective Jon Rhodes, 10.01.2006
Diane Loghry – taped statement transcription, 9.21.2006
Elizabeth Anderson – interview summary by Detective Jon Rhodes, 9.28.2006
Homer Williams – interview summary by Lynn Courtney, 9.30.2006
Jamie Marquez – taped statement transcription, 9.24?.2006
Jon Olsen – interview summary by Detective J A McCausland, 9.18.2006
Mark Ginsberg – interview summary by Detective Lynn Courtney, 10.09.2006
Mark Ginsberg – taped statement transcription, 10.03.2006
Melissa Gaylord – interview summary by Detective Lynn Courtney, 10.06.2006
Michael Gentry – interview summary by Detective Jon Rhodes, 10.10.2006
Randall Stuart – interview summary by Lynn Courtney, 9.29.2006
Randall Stuart – taped statement transcription, 9.21.2006

Portland Police Officer Reports & Testimony

Officer C. Brown – special report, 9 17, 2006
Officer Christopher Humphrey – special report – handwritten, 9.26.2006
Officer Christopher Humphrey – special report to detectives, 9.26.2006
Officer Christopher Humphrey – taped statement transcription, 9.20.2006
Officer Christopher Humphrey – Use-of-Force report, 9.20.2006
Officer Edward Johnson – special report, 10.01.2006
Officer Gonzalez – special report, 9.17.200
Officer H Singh – special report – property evidence, officer clothing, 9.17.2006
Officer J A McCausland – special report – word picture of scene at 33rd and Clackamas, 9.25.2006
Officer J Worthington – special report – contact two days prior with Jim Chasse, 10.06.2006
Officer J. Shearer – special report – evidence inside squad car, 9.21.200
Officer Jason Lile – special report, 9.18.2006
Officer M. Bledsoe – special report, 9.17.2006
Officer M. Bledsoe – taped statement transcription, 9.17.2006
Officer N. Phothivongsa – special report – from MCDC intake, 9.17.2006
Officer Pintarich – special report – follow ambulance to Providence ER, 9.17.2006
Officer Troy Pahlke – special report, 9.28.2006
Officer Troy Pahlke – taped statement transcription, 9.19.2006
Sergeant G. A. Burke – special report, 9 17, 2006
Sergeant Jason Pearce – special report, 9.17.2006
Sergeant Jason Servo – special report – tow squad car, 9.17.2006
Sergeant Jeff Niiya – special report – handwritten, 9.17.2006
Sergeant Jeff Niiya – taped statement transcription, 9.17.2006
Sergeant Kyle Nice – special report, 9.26.2006
Sergeant Kyle Nice – taped statement transcription, 9.18.2006
Sergeant Vic Doty – special report, 9.25.2006

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies and Staff Reports & Testimony

Brian Branch – information report, 9.17.2006
Deputy Bret Burton – taped statement transcription
Deputy Judith May – information report, 9.17.2006
Deputy Martin McElhaney – information report, 9.17.2006
Deputy P Hubert – information report – combative inmate, 9.17.2006
Deputy Thomas Hollenbeck – information report, 9.17.2006
Deputy Thomas Hollenbeck, Deputy Judith May, Deputy Martin McElhaney – taped statement transcription, 9.18.2006
Patricia Gayman, RN – special report – refusal of inmate at the door, 9.17.2006
Patricia Gayman, RN – special report, 10.03.2006
Patricia Gayman, RN – taped statement transcription, 9.18.2006

Miscellaneous Documents Presented to Chasse Grand Jury

Autopsy of James Chasse – 9.17.2006
Autopsy of James Chasse, attendance report from Detective Jon Rhodes, 10.12.2006
Crime scene sign in sheet – 9.17.2006
Detective Lynn Courtney – special report and summary, listing all people involved, 9.25.2006
Detective Lynn Courtney – special report, defibrillator download, 10.16.2006
Detectives acquire intake video from MCDC, 9.26.2006
Detectives acquire pre-hospital care report from AMR Ambulance, 9.25.2006
District Attorney Report on County Jails – CHASSE
District Attorney Report on County Jails – FULL
Evidence Report – squad car, Officer Mark Johnson, 9.26.2006
Evidence Report – “white powdery substance,” Officer J Mann, 9.17.2006
Explanation of Jon Olson and the defibrillator – special report by Officer G Manougian, 9.17.2006
Fingerprint Report – Officer Ken Jones, 9.18.2006
Multnomah County Resolution 06-185
Property Evidence collected at Medical Examiner’s office – special report, Officer B McIntyre, (mistyped) 6.18.2006
Property Evidence Receipts – items taken from officer & witnesses, various dates
Report cover – undated
Scene Response and Initial Investigation – Detective Jon Rhodes, 10.02.2006

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

Ela Howard – Project Respond case worker – special report, 10.10.2006
Yvone Ingram – treatment counselor – special report, 10.12.2006

Portland Fire Bureau

Bill Koppy – taped statement transcription, 9.21.2006
Brian Malloy – taped statement transcription, 9.20.2006
Donal Reeb – taped statement transcription – 9.22.2006
Gary Szalay – taped statement transcription, 9.25.2006
Robert Hawks – special report, 9.29.2006

Memos to Portland Police Officers

Communication Restriction During Investigation Order for Officer Christopher Humphrey, Officer M. Bledsoe, Sergeant Kyle Nice, Officer Troy Pahlke, Sergeant Jeff Niiya, Officer C. Weldon

Who is Accountable for the death of James Chasse?

City Auditor Gary Blackmer
City Council Member Dan Saltzman
City Council Member Randy Leonard
City Council Member Sam Adams
Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler
Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen
Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito
Multnomah County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts
Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey
Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk
Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Guisto
Portland Mayor Tom Potter
Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer
Portland Police Crisis Intervention Team

Mayor Tom Potter’s Mental Health Task Force

Agenda for 10.31.2006
Goals – Draft, 10.31.2006
Invitation to participate 11.7.2006
Mental Health Meeting Schedules
Workgroup Agenda 11.30.2006
Workgroup Minutes – 11.9.2006

Sites With Associated Information

Alien Boy – Documentary Film about James Chasse
Candlelight vigil remembers Jim Chasse, Jr.
Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
Chambers Gallery – It’s A Sad Sad Sad Sad World
Greg Sage of the Wipers memorializes Jim Jim at Zeno Records
Icarus Project
Jusitice For James Chasse Committee
Local Public Safety Coordinating Council
Oregon Action – Report on Racial Profiling by Portland Police
Portland CopWatch

American Medical Response – AMR Ambulance

Tamara Hergert, Kevin Stucker, James Hunter, Lori Andrews – EMTs – special report – REFUSED QUESTIONS, 10.10.2006