Mental health advocates demand police release Chasse report

From, September 17 2009

Three years after the death of James Chasse, who died in police custody, community mental health advocates said they are still waiting for a clearer picture about his death to be presented by Portland police.

Representatives from the Mental Health Association turned in a petition to the city Thursday signed by nearly 200 people who demanded that Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer release an internal investigation into the death of Chasse.

They want Sizer to say whether officers involved in the case will be disciplined.

“There is an investigation finished,” said Jason Renaud of the Mental Health Association. “We paid for it; we should get to see it. It’s been three years since James was killed and we still don’t actually know what happened to him.”

Sizer hasn’t said whether the two Portland police officers involved, Christopher Humphreys and Kyle Nice will be disciplined for their involvement in the death of Chasse.

Chasse died Sept. 17, 2006, while police officers were taking him to the hospital with broken ribs. Investigators said Chasse’s chest was crushed after Officer Humphreys landed on top of him during a struggle.

The police union agrees that the report should be released.

“Until use-of-force report findings are released, and the information from the statements the officers made, and what the Police Bureau investigated is released to the public,” the public will still believe misinformation, Sgt. Scott Westerman, the president of the Portland Police Association said.

“A series of events led to the death of James Chasse, and it’s very tragic, but for people to have the opinion that officers beat him to death is absolutely not true,” he said.

A grand jury cleared the officers of wrongdoing in 2006.

Chasse’s family is suing the Portland Police Bureau, and the trial is set for March. They’re calling for drastic changes, some of which have been implemented, including one that requires every officer to receive 40 hours of crisis intervention training.

Chief Sizer declined to comment for this story.