In six months, one of the trials in the Oregon police brutality lawsuit accusing Portland police officers of contributing to James P. Chasse Jr.’s wrongful death, because they allegedly used excessive force when apprehending him and then denied him the proper medical care, is scheduled to begin. Already, Multnomah County commissioners have approved a $925,000 settlement that resolves the Portland, Oregon wrongful death claim made by Chasse’s family against the county and several defendants, including former Multnomah County Deputy Bret Burton and correction nurses Sokunthy Eath and Patricia Gayman.
Claims however, are still pending against the city of Portland, former Mayor Tom Potter, Portland Police Officer Christopher Humphreys, Chief Rosie Sizer, police Sgt. Kyle Nice, American Medical Response Northwest Inc., and paramedics Kevin Stucker and Tamara Hergert. Because a court order divided the case in two, there will be a second civil trial in late 2010.
Chasse, 42, was a schizophrenic. Burton, Nice, and Humphreys reportedly arrested him after one of the cops noticed that he appeared to be urinating in public. Police say they chased down the suspect, knocking him to the ground and handcuffing him while he struggled. They also stunned him with a Taser.
Following the incident, Chasse’s vital signs appeared normal. As a result, ambulance workers who arrived at the arrest scene did not take him to the hospital. The jail, however, would not book him because of his physical condition.
The 42-year-old suspect died in police custody as he was being transported to the hospital. According to the Multnomah County medical examiner, Chase sustained major internal injuries, and broke 16 ribs, his sternum, and a shoulder.
While the Use of Force Review Board determined that the way Chase was apprehended did not violate bureau policy, the board said that Chase should have been sent to the hospital right after he had been Tasered. As a result, Police Chief Rosie Sizer is recommending that Nice be suspended.
Portland chief recommends sergeant’s suspension in Chasse’s death, Oregon Live, September 23, 2009
County pays $925,000 to settle part of Chasse lawsuit, Portland Tribune, July 2, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Portland Police Bureau
Taser Deaths Blog
Taser guns ‘raised deaths in custody,’ New Scientist, February 2009