Oregon medical examiners’ office says man died during arrest

From the Associated Press, September 23, 2006

The state medical examiner’s office says a 42-year-old man died in police custody, as Portland police were trying to arrest him.

James Chasse‘s official cause of death was “broad-based” blunt force trauma to his chest, the medical examiner’s office said.

The death was ruled accidental, because examiners found that police had not been intending to cause Chasse’s death.

Toxicology tests came back negative, meaning no drugs were detected in his system.

Medical examiner could not tell whether the chest injuries resulted from Chasse’s initial fall to the pavement or from the tumble of officers falling on top of him.

The case is under criminal investigation, and will probably be presented to a Multnomah County grand jury for review.

Chasse’s death prompted at least two witnesses to file excessive-force complaints against police with the Independent Police Review Division.