The City of Portland has hired an outside audit and investigative group to look into the police department’s handling of the 2006 death in custody of James P. Chasse Jr, according to a recent article in The Oregonian.
Chasse died of what the newspaper describes as “broad-based blunt-force trauma to the chest”, including 26 breaks to his ribs. An initial investigation by Portland’s police chief found that only one officer had violated department policy in relation to Chasse. A later investigation by the police commissioner ordered a two-week suspension for two officers. Last October, however, the city auditor ordered a further investigation. The city will now hire a California firm that specializes in cases like this to review all aspects of the department’s conduct relating to Chasse and his death.
Cases like Chasse’s raise the issue of Portland wrongful death. The mere fact that someone has been taken into police custody does not give law enforcement officials the right to mistreat them, or to sweep Oregon mistreatment under the rug if it occurs.
Mistreatment at the hands of the police or other law enforcement officials can lead to serious injury and even to Oregon wrongful death. Even if no criminal charges are filed, it is only prudent to consult with a Portland wrongful death and personal injury attorney to examine what legal recourse you may have in the face of alleged official misconduct. The Chasse case raises disturbing questions, but even much less severe cases deserve their day in court with the assistance of a dedicated Portland personal injury and wrongful death lawyer.