What happened to Chase Hammer – shot dead by Salem police

On Oct. 21, 2012, Chase Hammer, 27, was confronted by Salem police responding to a mental health call. Hammer was armed with a revolver, with which he was threatening to kill himself. His family wanted to assure police he was not a danger to anyone but himself, but officers never talked to them.

Officers ordered Hammer to drop the gun, but before he could respond, Salem Police Cpl. Ryan Demmer shot him twice, killing him. In December 2012, a grand jury ruled Demmer justified. Hammer’s family sued, and in 2016 the city of Salem agreed to pay them $100,000 to settle the case.

Man shot and killed by Salem police identified

KPTV Fox 12, Oct. 22, 2012

Chase Hammer

Chase Hammer

Salem police shot and killed a man who they say refused to drop his gun.

Police were called to the 3700 block of Scenic View Drive SE at around 6:30 p.m. Sunday. A woman called to report her boyfriend had a gun and was threatening to kill himself.

Officers encountered the man, Chase Hammer, 27, of Salem, as they searched the area. Police said he was repeatedly told to drop his weapon and was shot at 7:53 p.m. when he failed to comply.

Hammer was pronounced dead at the scene. Nobody else was hurt.

Oregon State Police detectives are conducting an independent investigation into the shooting, which is standard procedure for this type of incident.


Police identify victim of fatal officer-involved shooting

The man who was shot by police Sunday evening was identified today as Chase Hammer, 27, of Salem.

Chase Hammer

Chase Hammer

Hammer was shot and killed Sunday after police encountered an armed man outside of a residence in the 3700 block of Scenic View Drive SE.

Police responded to the residence after Hammer’s girlfriend called police at 6:26 p.m. to report Hammer was despondent, was threatening to kill himself and had left with a gun, police said.

During the encounter, Salem Police Corporal Ryan Demmer shot Hammer at approximately 7:53 p.m. The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Salem police spokesman Dave Okada said that Hammer did not respond to Demmer’s commands to drop his weapon.

Oregon State Police are conducting an independent investigation into the shooting, which is a standard procedure. The involved officers have been placed on administrative leave.


Chase Hammer obituary

Legacy.com, Nov. 1, 2012

Chase Hammer was born in Cali, Colombia and adopted as an infant by his loving parents Steve Hammer & Janet Williams. With the loss of our beloved son, brother, father and friend to so many, we say good-bye.

Those who knew Chase remembered his handsome face, big smile, quirky sense of humor and above all his sincere and open heart. Chase held a special place in the hearts of those who knew him.

Chase leaves behind the most precious persons in his life: 9-year-old daughter Miah and 3-year-old daughter Lily. Chase loved his girls more than words can express. He always wanted the best life for them and did everything within his power to ensure they were loved and taken care of.

With Chase’s passing he leaves a hole in many hearts: his mother, Janet; father, Steve; sisters Maria Elise, Katie, Ivory and Amanda; Nephews Jailen and Carter; Aunt Jerri and cousins Burke and Rob.

A Memorial Services will be held 6:30pm, Friday, November 2nd, 2012 at Trinity Covenant Church located at 5020 Liberty Rd, Salem OR.

Remembrances may be made to the Chase Hammer Memorial Fund at any US Bank branch nationwide.


Salem officer cleared in shooting death of Chase Hammer, 27

Candlelight vigil for Chase Hammer

By Emily Gillespie, Statesman Journal, Dec. 6, 2012

A grand jury unanimously cleared a Salem police officer of any wrongdoing in the Oct. 21 fatal shooting of a Salem man.

Chase Hammer, 27, was under the influence of alcohol and other drugs when he threatened to kill himself and left a southeast Salem residence with a revolver, Deputy District Attorney Matt Kemmy said.

Fifteen people, including Hammer’s family members and neighbors who witnessed the shooting, testified before the grand jurors all day Wednesday before deciding that Salem Police Officer Ryan Demmer was justified in his use of deadly force.

Kemmy offered this detailed account of the events that led up to Hammer’s death:

The mother of one of Hammer’s children called 911 at about 6:30 p.m. that Sunday evening to report Hammer as being despondent and armed with a gun.

Officers arrived at 3734 Scenic View Drive SE, where they learned Hammer might still be inside the residence. Police set up a perimeter and began calling for a SWAT team negotiator and canine unit.

While additional officers were arriving, police heard what sounded like a gunshot from north of the residence. Police then saw Hammer walking toward the residence and yelled at him to stop as he passed a marked patrol car.

Hammer ignored police commands to stop and show his hands. He then reached behind his back, pulled out a gun and began to raise the gun at officers.

At that point, Salem Police Cpl. Ryan Demmer, who was standing 10 to 15 feet away, fired two shots at Hammer, hitting him both times. Hammer was pronounced dead at the scene.

Aside from testimony, other evidence provided to jurors included photographs, the medical examiner’s report for Hammer and the results of Demmer’s toxicology reports, which were clean.

Kemmy said that in Marion County it is standard practice to require a toxicology report of an officer after a deadly shooting.

Hammer had a blood alcohol content of .23 percent and his blood tested positive for Cannabinoid and Alprazolam, both illegal substances, according to his toxicology report.

Demmer, who was placed on administrative leave after the incident, is back on duty after Wednesday’s decision.

“Our family is very disappointed in this decision,” said Hammer’s sister, Maria Hammer. Although she didn’t elaborate, she said her family is seeking legal counsel from Portland civil rights firm Creighton and Rose.

“Our goal is to bring light to the events of that night and to seek justice for my brother, Chase Hammer,” Maria Hammer said. “This is a heartache for our family and a very emotional day for us.”

Hammer is survived by his mother, father, sister, nephews, 9-year-old daughter Miah and 3-year-old daughter Lily.


Family of Salem man slain by police during mental-health call sues city, two officers

 The Oregonian, Oct. 14, 2013

chase-hammer-sealThe family of a South Salem man accuses a pair of Salem police officers of using excessive force during a mental health call that ended in his death.

A federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Chase Hammer alleges that Cpl. Ryan Demmer and Sgt. Trevor Upkes rushed to lethal action before Hammer could even comprehend they were police.

“This was a tragedy, but it was a preventable tragedy,” said Portland lawyer J. Ashlee Albies, who represents Hammer’s estate in the lawsuit she filed on Friday.

A Salem Police Department spokesman deferred comment to the city attorney’s office, which did not immediately respond for comment.

Hammer’s girlfriend phoned police at 6:27 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2012, to say Hammer was threatening suicide, had a gun, and was taking Percocet pain pills and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

Police learned that the 26-year-old man was not violent, just sad, according to the lawsuit.

When police reached Hammer’s home, they were uncertain whether he was inside or outside. They didn’t enter the residence to talk with Hammer’s girlfriend, father and sister, who could have told them Hammer had taken a long walk to calm down.

“Had defendants listened to Hammer’s family, they would have learned Hammer was experiencing a mental health crisis, was distraught because he had been facing unemployment and was suffering from chronic pain, but was a non-violent person,” the suit alleges. “Moreover, he was very upset at having recently lost his wallet and cell phone.”

While Hammer had a police record, police did not suspect he had committed a crime – only that he was potentially suicidal.

Police were still at Hammer’s home, where some of his family members were gathered, when he came walking slowly up Southeast Scenic Drive toward his home at about 8 p.m., more than an hour after they reached his address. They recognized him and shined lights directly into his face, the lawsuit alleges.

“The officers claimed they yelled commands at Hammer to drop his gun and/or to get on the ground,” according to the complaint. “The officers did not identify themselves as police, nor did they give Hammer time to respond to any commands.”

A moment after shouting commands at Hammer, still blinded by bright lights, Demmer shot Hammer to death, the lawsuit alleges.

Family members were among those who witnessed the shooting, said Albies.

The lawsuit accuses police of not attempting to negotiate with Hammer or establish communication with him, although a crisis negotiator was at the scene. They allege that Hammer never pointed his gun at anyone and that police failed to warn him that he would be shot if he failed to follow their commands.

Hammer’s family held a vigil last December, saying police had no justification for using force on him.

The lawsuit also accuses the Salem Police Department of failing to activate its Hostage Negotiation Team to deal with Hammer, which was reckless and deliberately indifferent to Hammer’s safety and constitutional rights.

The complaint did not specify how much the Hammer estate sought.

Said Albies: “How do you measure the loss of a family member?”


City pays $100K settlement in 2012 police shooting death lawsuit

Statesman Journal, Sept. 26, 2016

chase-hammer-with-child“Family holds vigil to recall man shot by police. They maintain that use of deadly force was not justified.”

The headline could’ve been from many newspapers in America this past week, but it stemmed from the October 2012 officer-involved shooting of Chase Hammer, a 27-year-old black man experiencing a mental health crisis outside his Salem home.

Almost four years after his death, the city of Salem agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hammer’s family.

“Chase, beloved father, brother and son, was universally described by his friends and family as a loving and kind person, deeply devoted to his two young daughters,” said Chase’s family in a statement released on Monday.

Hammer, a South Salem resident, was shot and killed by Salem police Cpl. Ryan Demmer outside his home in the 3700 block of Scenic Drive SE. Hammer was armed and didn’t respond to an officer’s commands to drop his weapon, police said. Salem police Sgt. Trevor Upkes also responded to the call.

Hammer’s girlfriend called police to report that Hammer was threatening to kill himself and had left with a gun, officials said.

“It was just like a deer in the headlights,” Steve Hammer, his father, told the Statesman Journal in 2012. Chase was responding to the officer’s commands but wasn’t given ample time to respond, Steve said. He took one step forward, which was against the officer’s order, and was shot twice in the chest, Steve said.

Three family members were present when the police “robbed Chase of his life without justification,” his sister, Maria, said in a family statement in 2012.

“My brother was in crisis,” Maria said. “The crisis was not attended to. The root of the problem was not attended to.”

Chase left behind two daughters, then 9 and 3 years old, his mother, father, sister and nephews.

A grand jury unanimously cleared Demmer of any wrongdoing following an Oregon State Police investigation.

In 2013, Chase’s family sued the city of Salem and the two officers involved in the shooting.

The wrongful death claim, filed in U.S. District Court, alleged that Salem police learned Chase was under the influence of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and painkiller Percocet after they received the 911 call Oct. 21. Dispatch relayed information that he was “not violent, just sad.”

The lawsuit alleged the following:

Officers eventually surrounded the home and took surveillance positions armed with a variety of weapons. They did not attempt to gather information from Hammer’s family or friends who were at the scene. Had they listened to Chase’s family, the lawsuit said, they would have learned that he was distraught because he had been facing unemployment and chronic pain but was a nonviolent person. He also had recently lost his wallet and cell phone.

About an hour after officers arrived, they saw Chase walking slowly toward his home carrying a revolver. Recognizing Chase, the officers shone their lights into his face. They did not identify themselves as police, nor did they give time for him to respond to commands before Demmer shot him, the lawsuit said.

The other officer, Upkes did not create a plan to interact with Hammer, the lawsuit said, nor did any officers attempt to negotiate with him. Chase did not point his gun or threaten anyone, the lawsuit said.

The officers shouted three commands at Chase: show your hands, get down and drop the gun.

Demmer never gave Chase a warning that if he did not obey commands he would be shot, and Upkes failed to issue orders to protect Chase or prevent him from being shot.

Portland attorney Ashlee Albies, with the law firm Creighton & Rose, P.C., represented Chase’s family.

“The family doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Albies she told the Statesman Journal in 2013. “They don’t want anybody to lose a family member in this way.”

As part of the settlement, the city promised to develop a protocol for dealing with family members of victims from officer-involved shootings. Chase’s family requested that law enforcement create a “comprehensive policy to deal with mental health issues and people in crisis.”

All police responses to suicide calls in the past five years will be reviewed, and law enforcement will continue to expand its mobile crisis response teams and crisis outreach respond teams, according to the settlement.

As part of the agreement, Salem police officials will meet with Chase’s mother.

Of the settlement, $56,481 will be paid to Creighton & Rose. The remaining settlement while be dispersed among Chase’s father, mother and two daughters.

“The non-monetary terms were very important to the family,” Albies said, adding that their goal was to change the culture and practices of policing.

Recent shootings of black men and women, transgender individuals and people experiencing mental health crises illustrate the potentially volatile relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“The City and the officers involved are saddened that the events of this encounter resulted in the death of Mr. Hammer,” said Daniel Atchison, city attorney for Salem.

He said the city maintained that the officers followed all standards and protocols and exercised appropriate judgment in a difficult situation.

But in an effort to bring the best possible resolution, the city worked with Chase’s family to mutually agree on a settlement, Atchison added.

Earlier this month, Salem City Council authorized the city to pay no more than $100,000 to settle all claims associated with the lawsuit. Payment will be made from the city’s self-insurance claim fund.

“In light of recent and ongoing national attention to law enforcement shootings of black people and to the many concerns involving race and police, Chase’s family encourages the City of Salem to implement concrete measures to address systemic issues of racial bias in law enforcement,” the family’s statement said.

Training to combat bias and looking critically at traffic stops and uses of force could bring light and resolution to racial bias in the community, they added.

“While their grief over Chase’s loss is immeasurable, his family hopes the resolution of this case will make prompt changes to ensure both officers and community members make it home safely,” Albies said.


Press Release from Ashlee Albies, Creighton & Rose, P.C., attorney for family of Chase Hammer

September 26, 2016
Contact: J. Ashlee Albies 503.221.1792

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The family of Chase Hammer has settled the civil rights lawsuit they filed against the City of Salem and the officers who killed Chase in October of 2012.

Background: in October of 2012, the Salem Police department responded to a call for a welfare check on Chase, a-27-year old Black male, reporting that he was suicidal, under the influence of Xanax, and in possession of his father’s gun. When Salem police arrived on scene – Chase’s home where he lived with his father – he was not there. Over an hour later, after dark, Chase approached his home, walking slowly and calmly up the street. Officers testified that Chase was holding a revolver, upside down and by the butt, as he approached his home. The officers shined their lights at him and officers simultaneously shouted different commands at him. Chase gave no sign that he understood the commands or even that police officers were present. The officers gave Chase no time to comply with any of the commands: a moment after giving them, an officer shot Chase twice, killing him. Chase’s family was nearby and witnessed his death. The police left his body lying on the street until morning.

Chase, beloved father, brother and son, was universally described by his friends and family as a loving and kind person, deeply devoted to his two young daughters.

As part of the resolution of the lawsuit, Chase’s family required the inclusion of important non-monetary terms. As such, this settlement requires Salem (1) to develop a protocol for dealing with family members of subjects of officer-involved shootings; (2) to research and develop a more comprehensive policy to de-escalate and deal with mental health issues and people in crisis, to be reviewed by an outside expert; (3) to review and assess its law enforcement response to suicide calls for the past 5 years; (4) to continue to participate and expand its mobile crisis response teams and crisis outreach response teams; and (5) to hold a meeting with Chase’s mother, Ms. Williams. The City will also pay $100,000 to resolve the case.

In light of recent and ongoing national attention to law enforcement shootings of Black people and to the many concerns involving race and policing, Chase’s family encourages the City of Salem to implement concrete measures to address systemic issues of racial bias in law enforcement, including training to combat bias and collecting and analyzing demographic data related to police officers’ stops and uses of force. While their grief over Chase’s loss is immeasurable, his family hopes the resolution of this case will prompt these necessary changes to ensure both officers and community members make it home safely.

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Download – Chase Hammer Settlement Press Release (PDF)