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Cops Bragged About "Tackling" James Chasse, Jr
Video Surfaces Shortly After Community Marks Two Years Since Death in Police Custody

Two years after James Chasse, Jr.'s death, the Portland Police Bureau's Internal Affairs investigation into what happened was still not complete. Police officers Christopher Humphries and Kyle Nice, and Bret Burton (formerly a sheriff's deputy) still patrol the streets. No one has yet been held accountable for brutally beating and killing Chasse.

While the Bureau was dragging its feet and not giving the community any hope that closure is in sight, people came out again for a second year to remember Chasse and express outrage. On September 16th, members of the Mental Health Association of Portland (MHAP) met at Central Precinct to chalk outlines of bodies and write the names of victims of police violence. The next day, activists from Portland Coalition Against Poverty, the Portland Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, and other groups marched and held banners demanding the community take back their power and end police brutality. KBOO radio aired a Chasse special and MHAP held a concert remembering James to benefit the production of the documentary "Alien Boy" (PPR #44). Also in support of "Alien Boy," a few creative Portlanders have put together a zine about Chasse with the same name, available at Reading Frenzy.

At the end of October, the Chasse family's attorneys released a video from the intake area at the county jail that included enhanced audio detail from the night Chasse was killed. On the video, Officer Humphries can be heard talking about how he tackled Chasse, how hard he fell, how scared Chasse was and how funny it was to take him down in front of the Bluehour restaurant while people ate their dinner. This story contradicts testimony that Humphries gave to the homicide detectives during the initial investigation days after Chasse died. Humphries originally testified that he did not tackle Chasse but pushed him in accordance with policy. After the tape's release, Police Chief Sizer opened a separate internal investigation into the question of whether Humphreys lied to investigators (Oregonian, October 31).

On November 12, newly elected police union president Scott Westerman published a guest opinion in the Oregonian with his take on the new developments in the Chasse case. This was Westerman's first "public appearance" and he used it to set a harsh tone. He criticized the Chasse family for pursuing a civil trial and used the same tired line blaming the "degrading mental health system" instead of police. He brazenly commented that officers did what they had to do if, in fact, Chasse was urinating in public, because downtown business owners have said it is a big "livability" issue. While most citizens would probably agree that public restrooms and spaces are important issues, a higher "livability" issue is police use of violence against unarmed citizens who have committed no crime, especially when lives are being taken.

To hear the KBOO program, go to listen at www.kboo.fm/node/9395. To view the video , visit http://videos.oregonlive.com/oregonian/2008/10/james_chasse_jail_video .html https://vimeo.com/6741206.

For info visit www.alienboy.org, or donate to MHAP, PO Box 3641, Portland, OR 97208.

  People's Police Report

January, 2009
Also in PPR #46

Railroad Police Shoot Near Portland Cops
  • Cops Bragged About "Tackling" James Chasse
  • Shootings and Deaths In and Around Oregon

Lawsuit Changes Policy on Taping Police
Oversight Report Skewed for Public Relations
Review Board Holds Only 1 Hearing in 2009
Updates PPR 46
  • Racial Profiling Committee Dismissed
  • Cops Create Rules for "Secret List"
Sheriff Skipper Talks to Copwatch
  • Sheriff Jail Deaths, Sick Leave in Headlines
Sit/Lie Report: Sign Boards OK, Not People
  • Anti-Camping Update
Portland to Revive Prostitution Free Zones?
Chief Sizer Remains Bureau Head--For Now
Taser Danger: Portland Cases in the News
Family Settles Suit: Excessive Force in Raid
Rapping Back #46

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #46 Table of Contents
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