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Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Yeah, that's the ticket

Today's O reports:

James P. Chasse Jr., the 42-year-old man who died Sept. 17 after three officers struggled to arrest him, suffered more than a dozen fractured ribs, some that punctured his left lung and caused massive internal bleeding, according to an autopsy report released by his family's attorney Tuesday....

The state medical examiner, Dr. Karen Gunson, cited blunt-force chest trauma as his cause of death and wrote that the injuries were caused "by another person or a fall."

Sure. You fall to the pavement once and break 16 ribs. Happens all the time. Good call, Doc.

Comments (15)

I knew you'd be the other person to catch this. Heh.

I am all for letting the police do there jobs, and supporting them when they have to make the tough, split second judgement calls in the heat of the battle.

But this guy died from internal bleeding, which came from a punctured lung, which came from many broken ribs, which came from policeman's boots. And this guy is no wacko meth addict about to kill innocent bystanders....just a bum pissing in public who would not go quietly.

May the grand jury hear all the evidence and return the correct judgement.

The extent of the damage as described in the report is truly remarkable. If he were twenty years older and suffering from osteoporosis, it would be one thing. But in someone of his age and health, that's the kind of trauma one would expect to find in a person run over by a pickup truck, not in someone being apprehended by the police. It's hard to imagine any circumstances under which taking into custody an unarmed person would require the use of that kind of force, much less the utter negligence exhibited by these thugs in not getting him medical attention.

Absolutely disgusting. I can't begin to express my outrage enough. What the medical examiner's report basically does is confirm that the officers were lying about their account of the arrest and the witnesses who filed the complaint were correct. The officers stated in their report that they caught up to Chasse and that the impact of the chase knocked him to the ground. Witnesses claimed they saw the man being beaten and tasered repeatedly. Which version of events is supported by the medical report, hmmm? The report also said Chasse was not under the influence at the time and there was no evidence of illicit drug use in his system. The officers report implied that Chasse was behaving as though he was under the influence.

OK, Tom Potter, ex-Police Chief, you've had two years to vision about the campaign promises you made to change the culture of the PD, implement training, establish accountability, etc. Time to roll all that out to the public before some another innocent person is beaten and tazered to death by the police, don't you think?

This could be the place where Potter makes a meaningful start to improve the Police Bureau.

Alternatively, the rumor that he's being blackmailed by the police union, who has Foxworth-like dirt on him, could be true.

To give a little perspective to ease of breaking ribs, I fell off a inner tube being pulled behind a boat going about 15mph, and I broke three ribs. I am not making a opinion either way, yet; or maybe never if we are unable to get satisfactory facts which is hard to determine medically.

Horrible story - police should be fully investigated. But what about the mental health community, that failed him in the first place? Too bad the grand jury can't indict them as well. (http://psychlaws.blogspot.com/2006/10/finger-pointing-in-oregon.html)

I complained last night that no one had done this. But now, read it (pdf) and weep.

no excuses
no justification
no obfuscation
no misdirection

these cops were WAY over the line!

"...split-second decisions...", my ass!

no indictments = no justice = complete disrespect for PPB and Potter. And if the union stands up for these gangsters they're even less principled than I thought. Saddam would have been proud of these guys.

If the city (read Potter) doesn't get rid of these jackbooted thugs and take the heat then the coward should be recalled. There are no nuances here.

When will these officers begin collecting their disability payments from the Pension fund?

Thanks to you b!X for posting a link to the 21 page PDF of the full documentation from the Medical Examiner.

I read each word. It truly gives a vivid image of the trauma this man received.

It also discloses a few details that haven't made the rounds yet.

I quote the ME's report of word from Mr. Chasse's mother that:

"mother...states the subject had recently been in some type of mental health crisis and Cascadia personnel had already scheduled some type of intervention and hospitalization for tomorrow."

It is unfortunate that if they knew he had acutely decompensated and needed involuntary commitment, they chose to wait. Why'd they wait is a good question.

I also didn't know that Mr. Chasse had been taken to Providence when he seemed lifeless on the way to Adventist. Apparently at Providence he was alive but critical, had cardiac resucitation there and had the chest tube place there. That is, he died in the Providence ER, not in the back seat of a squad car.

And, thanks to you Jack, I found a link to the full Maxine Bernstein piece you quote. It ends with this:

Jason Sorrick, spokesman for AMR Ambulance, said he could not discuss the ambulance medics' actions in regard to Chasse. "Federal privacy rules are pretty clear," Sorrick said. "We can't discuss anything in regard to patient care."

Why the medics would defer to police on whether to take a person they examine to the hospital, Sorrick declined to answer as well. AMR medics declined to be interviewed by Portland detectives investigating the case and had to be subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.

So the ambulance guys intend to stone-wall this better than the police.

Amazing how the story fleshes out as a few facts emerge. The guys calling for a public inquest are absolutely on target.

"Federal privacy rules are pretty clear," Sorrick said. "We can't discuss anything in regard to patient care."

Yeah, that's pretty much true. Without a proper HIPAA authorization, the ambulance company can't release anything. It is not necessarily a cover up.


The interesting thing about HIPAA is that it makes clear that the patient owns his own data. For instance, if one were to request one's complete medical record from a particular provider, the healthcare provider is (with some narrow exceptions) required to produce it. (See section 164.524.)

Once one has those records, one could then release them to anyone at all, press or public included, and HIPAA would have nothing to say in the matter.

It seems very likely that the ambulance company, as a health care provider, would maintain some record of its contact with each patient and the medical assessments its staff made. Mr Chasse could request those records and almost certainly get them. Sadly, he's passed on and is unable to do so.

But another interesting thing about HIPAA is that a patient's HIPAA rights do not end when the patient dies. In Sections 164.502(f), (g)(1), and (g)(4), it can be seen that the right of access is maintained. An executor (or equivalent) may request the medical records as well, and pretty much expect to get them.

I think Mr. Chasse's family might want to ask the ambulance company for the entire record of their contact with him.

Alan, I agree with you completely regarding the records. Indeed, I hope Mr. Chasse's estate swiftly obtains the complete AMR record, as well as the complete Cascadia record...looking especially at documentation of Chasse's psychiatric status in the hours and days before his death. It would be useful to understand justification for why he wasn't immediately placed on a mental health director's hold and hospitalized...if his mother's remarks quote in the Medical Examiner's 21 page report are accurate.

I'd like to see the AMR response to a few non-HIPAA issues:

1. Who pays the AMR bill when the police call to have a patient "cleared" for jail? Who pays if they go to a hospital? Why, actually, does AMR perform this service for the police?

2. What are the diagnostic procedures and medical criteria by which an EMT will decide for or against jail, such as in the Chasse situation? Is this actually within their scope of practice?

I can think of several more, but in the words of Archie Bunker, I'll stifle myself.

in re: woodburn bob's question about why he wasn't placed on a hold immediately: a real clinician could do a better job explaining this, but i just want to note that it is really difficult to find a person "holdable." even when intervening mental health workers (like project respond) recognize that the person would benefit from treatment, unless the person is, in that moment, a danger to himself or others, he is not holdable. and even when he *is* holdable, the hold doesn't always "stick" (depending on the person's acuity, the availability of mental health beds in hospitals, how well the person can pull it together once he's talking to the doctors). where i work we've had some very sick people put on "holds" and released the next day, sometimes just hours later. often, (sadly, ironically) the thing that *finally* makes a person holdable is a run-in with the cops that occurs when they have decompensated to the point they are actually breaking the law. usually public urination and indecent exposure (ie: what chasse is accused of doing) are the laws they break.


Since it sounds like this type of mental behavior (decompensated, then out in public breaking minor laws...public indecency & urination) is not uncommon, and the police are probably not at all unfamiliar with it, it would be interesting to see how other cops have handled similar situations.

I am sure that not all cops resort to the tactics that these police did. Or else we would be having much more dead mental patient cases in Portland, given how many of those are in the Portland area.

The police & health care people involved in this case should be held to account, not shielded & protected by "the system". These types of cases are the perfect venues to changes "the system".


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Yeah, that's the ticket:

» The buck doesn't stop, apparently from Jack Bog's Blog
It wouldn't be a Friday afternoon without some weirdness from City Hall. The latest: Regardless of what the Multnomah County grand jury decides in the death of James Chasse Jr., Mayor Tom Potter plans to ask the City Council to appoint a committee to s... [Read More]

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