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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 17, 2006 5:43 PM. The previous post in this blog was A Slough of problems. The next post in this blog is E-mails, we get e-mails. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No bill

There was never any doubt.

And of course, old boy Schrunk has to make sure we all know that the grand jury was "unanimous."

No kidding, Mike. You did your job well.

Now we'll have some more study groups, blah blah blah. So long, Jim Jim. You deserved better. The guys who did this to you will never get what they deserve.

UPDATE, 10/18, 12:48 p.m.: Beerdrinker has a pretty good post on this. He suggests that since the d.a. will never vigorously prosecute a police officer for brutality, the only solution is a civil suit. I don't know about that. Maybe if we had special prosecutors for these cases, you might see an indictment on occasion. But of course, that's a pipe dream. On with the study group.

Comments (31)

I just heard this on OPB radio. :(

The guys who did this to you will never get what they deserve.

Our justice system may have failed but that doesn't mean that somehow, someway they won't "get what they deserve."

Maybe you're right. But it won't be at the hands of our government, which have pretty much been washed, once again, on this one.

The "internal investigation" will be secret, and nothing meaningful will come of it. It's just a "tragedy" and an 'accident," and the "thumper" cop will be back out in his car, waiting to freak out again.

They said the autopsy concluded that it was an accidental fall by one of the officers onto James that caused the majority of his injuries.

So, one cop falling on you would break most of 26 ribs and puncture your lung? They seriously think that will fly? Of course they do, because it's already flown.

I think the family could have had the best expert witness in the world and it wouldn't have mattered.

Regarding unanimity: I think we Oregonians should get over the idea that, if many or most people can be talked into believing something, it must be an accurate reflection of the record, and if one person -or a few people- believe something-like the kid who pointed out the emperor was wearing no clothes-it must be the delusion of a "lone wolf".

They said the autopsy concluded that it was an accidental fall by one of the officers onto James that caused the majority of his injuries.

Well no, if they said this, then we've apparently caught them in an outright lie.

The autopsy report from the medical examiner's office, at least the one that was released by Chasse's family, said nothing about what exactly caused the injuries.

Okay, so either they said this and are lying, or they said this because there's another autopsy report somewhere besides the one the authorities gave to Chasse's family.

Ok, this might be even more dirty than we think.

I can now accept the use of the word tragedy here, in that in the history of poetic narrative it is used to describe a sad scenario wherein the actors are ignorant of their fate, while the audience is wise to the brutal joke from the very beginning. And it runs its inevitable, unstoppable, inhuman course every time, over and over and over again.
Howard Barker observed that we emerge from tragedies equipped against lies. Perhaps, but I'm not sure what good it does.

"An officer falling on the victim" which broke ribs and caused internal injuries. Just how high above Jim-Jim was this officer when he "fell"?

While it is no suprise, the DA's decision certainly is an outrage. Just so people know, there will bea candlelight memorial vigil for James Chasse Jr. Friday, October 27, 2006 7:00 PM at First Congregational Church 1126 SW Park Ave to remember James Chasse.

People attending the vigil are asked to honor the family's wishes for a respectful event.

While it is no suprise, the DA's decision certainly is an outrage.

The grand jury's decision, not the DA's.

(Setting aside, for the moment, the consensus that grand juries, at least in police-involved cases, do what the DA wants them to.)

Sadly, there is quite a bit of dirt in this one that will conveniently be swept under the rug. There will be much talk, in the form of mayoral platitudes no less, about what can be done in the future.
Mayor Potter's comment in today's Trib regarding a study of individual officer's use of force going back to 2004 is at least a nod in the right direction. Unfortunately, this job seems to fall into the hands of the auditor's office.
I'm not that confident in the outcome of that review but, it is important if anybody wants to get to the bottom of this incident, and the root causes of incidents of a similar nature, to look at conduct of individual officers.
One of the tragic angles of all this is the big 'what if' a different officer had been the first to contact Mr. Chasse? We'll never know, but likely the outcome would've been quite different.
It is easy to lose the forest through all the trees at times like this if all the talk is about the big picture. Citizens wind up feeling scared and frustrated with the police and decent, hard-working police officers wind up taking a bad rap because there's a few out there who are a little too eager to stomp on someone.


I think this phrase is overused, but... that really is an outrage.

At least New York handed down an idictment for the 41 shots. How is it that 26 fractures wasn't enough?

Morty: "Citizens wind up feeling scared and frustrated with the police and decent, hard-working police officers wind up taking a bad rap because there's a few out there who are a little too eager to stomp on someone."

And, to be blunt, it's high time those decent, hard-working police officers hang their stomper colleages out to dry.

This is Portland. We make the mobsters back east look like the Brady Bunch. On nights like this, I am really ashamed of my city.

Whether he likes it or not, this case is how Potter is going to be remembered.

"Whether he likes it or not, this case is how Potter is going to be remembered."

I wish you were right, Jack, but I'm guessing no one really is paying any attention to this. I can't say as I've heard any outrage beyond this blog at all.

It's a shame. Unbelievable, really, that the O! hasn't picked it up, but then, who are they to rock the boat? They're just the newspaper of record for Portland.

"At 6:23 (the officers) took Chasse in their patrol car to the hospital...They took the 33rd Ave exit off I-84...At 6:29 Humphreys removed Chasse's handcuffs and did chest compressions...A nearby resident, Jon Olsen, who sells defibrillators, offered to hook Chasse up to the machine, but the machine advised "Do Not Shock"...An ambulance arrived at 6:48. They reached the hospital at 6:51." (This morning's Oregonian.)

The officers pull off at the hospital exit, were 3 minutes from the emergency room...but pull over, do their own chest compressions, sought help from a resident --who happens to sell defibrilators-- and Chasse doesn't get to the emergency room until 6:51, 22 minutes after they "called for medical help?"

That doesn't make much sense to me, if the Oregonian is reporting this accurately. You hate to second guess what happens in tense, stressful situations...but why the delay in getting him to the hospital? Why didn't the police just take him to the emergency room, 3 minutes away?

What are the options for the State A.G. or the Feds to prosecute this? Is this grand jury the final word on criminal prosecution of this matter?

"the Feds to prosecute this?"

Right. This case will certainly awaken a sense of righteous outrage in that noted human rights activist, Alberto Gonzales.

FYI, last night's KATU newscast played 911 recordings which showed that an officer on the scene did tell dispatch that Chasse had been (or currently was, it's unclear) unconscious, and also that he had stopped breathing.

Of course, they also said this contradicts a Chasse family claim to the contrary, except all I've seen the Chasse family say is that the officers didn't tell the paramedics these things.

So, I guess what we need now is the recording of dispatch talking to AMR, to see if that info got passed along to them at all.

According to the O the grand jury deliberated for 20 minutes. They heard 30 witnesses and made a "decision" in 20 minutes. I thought grand juries were a joke but this one takes the cake. With 16 broken ribs this poor guy had to be in excruciating pain such that it was obvious that he needed to be taken to an emergency room. If these cops had hit a dog in the street with their patrol car they would have seen to it that the dog made it to a vetrenarian hospital. Sounds like "extreme indifference to the health and safety of another" at a minimum.

And, to be blunt, it's high time those decent, hard-working police officers hang their stomper colleages out to dry.

Alas, that's not the culture of this police force. To the contrary, the whistleblower is the one who gets hung out to dry.

Allan L:

I was asking about legal possibilities, not political probabilities. (I agree that Gonzales is worse than useless as an AG, but that's beside the point.)

I also heard on the news this morning, that Chasse tried to bite one of the cops, so the cop punched him in the face? WTF? That seems a little extreme to me.

I work downtown, and seriously, I get a little nervous when the street kids are acting stupid, or hassling me for money. But I have to say my anxiety level goes a little higher now when a Portland cop is nearby.


Well, if this had been, say a little obnoxious punk from the West Hills, Im sure the outcome of the Grand Jury's decsion would have been different. In reality it was just another throw away member of society im sure is how the authorities saw it.

The Feds have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute criminal violations of ones civil rights. The onus is on the Oregon US attorney's office to assume jurisdiction. The odds in light of the grand jury determination. Slim to none. It doesn't hurt to ask though.

The feds have jurisdiction for ANY possible federal crimes from the Chasse death.

The grand jury and other state criminal proceedings have no bearing on the feds' ability to bring any federal charges. They're two separate sovereigns so double jeopardy doesn't apply.

However, the feds very rarely prosecute federal crimes under the same theory as criminal proceedings from state courts. So you almost never see, say, murder proceedings in state court and subsequent murder proceedings in federal court. More commonly the feds take the civil rights approach like in the Rodney King case. But that's not gonna happen here.

Jon, if someone tries to bite you then you have the right to punch them in the face. Marv Albert, please take note.

I'm a criminal defense attorney. Now, maybe to some that will taint what I am about to say, but I'm trying to look at this as objectively and fairly as possible.

It is absolutely beyond belief that the DA could not get an indictment in a case like this if they wanted it. The grand jury system is one sided, there are no opposing parties arguing against indictment. And the standard is low. Can you convince a small room of people that maybe, perhaps, there is some evidence that a crime occurred.

But the fact is that the prosecutors and the police are married. They depend on each other to get the all important "win," a conviction. Prosecute the police, and that relationship sours, and job performance (the number of "wins") diminishes. Had this scene involved anyone other than a police officer, not only would there have been an indictment, it would have been a 10+ count indictment, and the DA's in Multo Co would have fought over the prestige of who got to argue the case.

Alan DeW:
I was flip, it's true; but I don't see much difference between the possibilities and the probabilities here. I believe, where the DA and the Grand Jury are concerned, that the Grand Jury's action is the end of the road under state criminal law. And while there may be civil rights violations that could be alleged against the uniformed perpetrators under federal criminal law, you'd have to have a prosecutor willing to prosecute these. Here, I'd say Gonzales is much, much worse than useless. Torture memos went out over his signature, and he's an author/champion of the Patriot Act, the elimination of habeas corpus for non-US citizens, and other genuine war crimes and like embarrassments.

Bronson's right, the marriage here determines the outcome before the proceedings even begin.
There's alot that stinks at all levels of city and county government and the DA's office doesn't seem to be immune.
Not that there aren't good folks over there doing their job as best they can. And, like Bronson, I'm a defense attorney - and I can't believe I just paid some of the DA underlings a compliment- but the fact is:
when the rich, powerful or otherwise politically untouchable are involved in allegations of wrongdoing, the corner of the rug is lifted, the broom comes out and away goes the problem.
Let's not forget the MCSO Deputy Green Scandal and how there was plenty of evidence to charge that guy with a host of crimes-- result?
Convenient excuses.

Jack - thanks for the link, but just to clarify: Beerdrinker hosts my blog, but it was I not he who authored the post you referred to - which strongly echoes Bronson's comments above.

And to further clarify my point: I don't mean to suggest that civil suits are an adequate remedy for a tragedy like this, but for good or ill that's pretty much the best you can get in our system.

Thanks for the clarification about the authorship. I was a little surprised that Beerdrinker wasn't out drinking beer and pondering the case, rather than writing about it. Anyway, it's an excellent post.

I don't think that we have to settle for just a civil lawsuit by the victim's family. I think that if we in Portland had the will, we could enact a fair and meaningful review and discipline system that would hold the individual officers responsible on an administrative level.


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