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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 12, 2008 3:37 PM. The previous post in this blog was Wall Street bailout, Plan D. The next post in this blog is Colwood Golf Course: The Empire strikes back. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New cop union boss: Officers who killed Chasse were in the right

Nothing like showing the rank and file what a tough guy you are over the body of a skinny, mentally ill guy who was brutally and needlessly killed by a notorious "thumper" on the force. For shame.

Comments (32)

The new union boss, Scott Westerman, has killed at least two people while wearing the uniform of the Portland Police Bureau. It's no surprise that he believes the murder of James Chasse was justified.

In fact, as Dan Handleman put in this article at Portland Copwatch, "It seems that Officer Westerman thinks that shooting to kill is the most efficient way to deal with civilians who do not act in a 'normal' way."

So, you and Dan Handleman think that shooting an EMT who is trying to help and pointing a shotgun at a cop falls within the realm of 'normal' behavior? Pissing on the street and running from cops is normal as well?

Pissing on the street and running from cops is normal as well?

It's an offense that carries a death sentence around these parts.

Following in the path of former PPA president Robert King, Scott Westerman seems very willing to spit out nonsense to the press. According to the Portland Tribune, "The Portland Police Bureau no longer trains its officers to tackle subjects, due to the possibility of injury. Rather, they are trained to push suspects near the shoulder blades in an attempt to push them over."

Humphreys admits that he tackled him. C'mon Scott, preserve a bit of credibility.

"Pissing on the street and running from cops is normal as well?"

More normal than killing someone.

Pissing on the street and running from cops

It was never established that he was in fact urinating. And if he actually were, you can bet that it would have been in the police report.

People who flee from officers or resist arrest subject themselves to greater risk of being tasered, shot, or wrestled to the ground.

It is very sad that Mr. Chasse made the decisions he made that day, as his actions preciptated the escalation of force necessary to subdue him. Mr. Chasse's action caused a reaction that would result in his death.

Just because he died, doesn't mean he was murdered. Does anybody really believe the police officers or deputy intended to kill Mr. Chasse? I don't know enough about Oregon Law to evaluate the possibility of a manslaughter charge, but the fact the D.A. declined to prosecute the officers suggests that threshold was not met.

I do know that accidental deaths are frequently in the news: kids playing sports, Boy Scouts on camping/hiking trips, college students drinking too much and doing something stupid, or suspects evading/fighting with cops. Whenever humans are traveling faster than they can walk, the risk of death rises accordingly. I assume that mortality resulting from police contact is higher for those who suffer from mental illness, homelessness, or addiction.

I believe that Mr. Chasse's actions led to his death: that he was likely incapable of making better decisions is the real tragedy in this sad story.

If the PPB policy were revised to preclude officers from engaging in foot pursuits of misdemeanor suspects (or required them to detain misdemeanor suspects without using brute force), I would anticipate a dramatic increase in misdemeanor crimes, attempts to flee, and incidence of resisting arrest.

If you resist arrest (as Mr. Chasse did), your risk of being harmed goes up.

Why don't we just shut the PPD down since no one seems to want them. I don't care, I have guns.

Just because he died, doesn't mean he was murdered.

They tackled him -- they admit, on tape, to tackling him -- which is against department training, an unjustified use of force, and thus an unjustified homicide. Which is a crime.

Officer Humphreys then changed his story and misrepresented the facts to investigators. Probably another crime, but certainly cause for discipline in any event.

This was a brutal, vicious killing, for no reason. If some guy pees on the street and runs away, the police have no right to kill him.

What happened to Chasse, as proven by his injuries and the record alone, was appalling and excuseless. If it doesn't qualify, in multiple respects, as "callous disregard for human life", then the law needs to be changed.

What happened to Chasse was exactly what he feared! Clearly, there was nothing irrational about his fear of cops.

Blues keep insisting, in the O, the Trib and elsewhere, that Chasse got what he got because the system and his relatives failed to keep him off the streets. That attitude is not acceptable. All Chasse ever did was look funny in a public place. Chasse had an involved family, was in stable housing, wasn't hurting anyone and had every right to hang out on the street without fear of attack by Blues just like any other citizen.

PPB has some excellent people in it, and they face dangers on the job that the rest of us can't even imagine. Nonetheless, PPB continues to need better educated officers and a major culture change.

Does "tackling" a suspect imply intent to kill him?

Would a violation of department procedures (assuming that's what happened) equal unjustified use of force under ORS?

If I walked up to Mr. Chasse and tackled him because he walked out of my restaurant without paying, I'm probably going to be tried for a crime. If a uniformed officer does the exact same thing, I would assume the threshold to prosecute him/her is much higher than it is for me.

Of course the police had no right to kill him, just as they had no intention of killing him.

Just like the kid who hit a baseball had no intent of killing the kid who got hit in the heart, or the boxer who stepped in the ring had no intent of killing his opponent with the freak jab in the nose.

Assumed risk, I think it's called.

Chasse did not die from trivial force that by some fluke resulted in an out-of-proportion effect, as in Mr Tee's examples.

The record shows that he died from massive trauma -- crushed chest, punctured lung and more -- drowning in his own blood in the back seat of that police car after being callously hauled around uncared for like a sack of potatoes for an unconscionable amount of time. Any rules or laws that make any part of this story, from the initial contact through the coroner's conclusion, excusable or acceptable in any way need to be changed, ASAP. If it wasn't criminal, it should be. All of it.

Jack, thank you for not pulling your punch on this one.

"With the enhanced audio on a newly released jail video, the Chasse family's attorney is attempting to cloud the issue of what really happened that day." Really? It sounds to me like their just bringing clarity to the events of that sad day. Scott Westerman is the only one trying to "cloud the issue."

It is very sad that Mr. Chasse made the decisions he made that day, as his actions preciptated the escalation of force necessary to subdue him. Mr. Chasse's action caused a reaction that would result in his death.

That's a load of horse s***.

The poor decision-making and inappropriate "reaction" was entirely the fault of the police officers present.

If Mr. Chasse had not run away, the officers would not have pursued him and knocked him/tackled him to the ground.

Yes or no?

The arguments made here sound a lot like the ones made when a homeowner shoots an intruder. You get the never ending chorus of complaints that the homeowner is responsible for what happened. The fact remains that had the intruder not broken into someone's home, he wouldn't have been shot. The same applies here, if you run from the police, you should expect to be tackled.

I saw Scott Westerman's "opinion piece" in the Oregonian today. I also watched on other venues the admittedly grainy video of Chasse's admission to the jail facility, upside down, carried in with a spit sock on his face, and Officer Humphreys garbled (and in places, almost 'ha ha') account of what can only be described of his tackle of this much smaller man.

But, beyond all the facts, which may ultimately speak for themselves, I wondered whether ANY PORTLAND POLICE OFFICER would EVER just say that they did wrong. It happens. C'mon. They do a hard job and sometimes, they do wrong. This ridiculous idea perpetuated by Robert King and now Westerman, that no officer can possibly do wrong, is just nauseating. Once I see an editorial defending cops in almost indefensible situations, all I have to do is skip to the author and it was King, and is now seemingly Westerman.

The PPB's officers union would do a whole lot better to acknowledge that sometimes mistakes are made, and they would get a whole lot more public sympathy for a job that they do that involves split second and sometimes wrong decisions. By lining up and presenting the big blue line - they alienate the public who can read between those lines, especially in the Chasse case. That man did not need to die. The whole police encounter, arrest, jail event was mishandled. I have no connection to the case or Chasse's attorney, but I believe that it is not the Chasse's attorney who is misrepresenting events here.

Does "tackling" a suspect imply intent to kill him?

Homicide does not have to be intentional to be a crime.

And don't put it in quotes. They admit, on tape, that they tackled him. Then Humphreys changed his story.

And according to eyewitnesses, tackling wasn't all they did to him.

Go ahead and defend Humphreys all you want. But he's unfit to be a cop. I'm tired of paying tax dollars for guys who can't do their job.

The lawsuit alleges that police on the scene loudly asserted to onlookers that Chasse was on cocaine and was a convicted drug dealer.

I don't know if those claims can be (or have been) proven by the plaintiffs, but assuming arguendo that they were, why would the police feel the need to spread lies about the man if they were so confident that literally crushing him (not yet to death) was a defensible result of his crimes or lack thereof?

I don't know what happened and I have no dog in this fight. I do regret the loss of life and the pain that Mr. Chasse's family has endured. I also empathize with the officers involved, as they must live with the fact they contributed to Mr. Chasse's early demise.

If I were sitting on a civil/criminal jury, I am likely to maintain my belief that police officers enforcing the law will sometimes cause bodily harm to others
when trying to place them under arrest. I don't believe that we can expect cops to take a punch, or get run over by a car, or let a suspect flee without giving chase. Force protection should take precedence every strict compliance with departmental policy.

Force protection should take precedence "over" strict compliance with departmental policy.

And by "force protection", I don't mean lying to internal affairs. Permitting officers the latitude necessary to protect their personal safety and the safety of fellow officers is "force protection".

"They tackled him...which is against department training, an unjustified use of force, and thus an unjustified homicide."

Just because tackling is not a bureau taught use of force doesn't mean it's out of policy or unjustified. They don't train officers to use punches either, but it's not out of policy under certain circumstances. Tackling someone who is running away is certainly a reasonable use of force, just not one officers train with.

If you watch football, whether a player is pushed over, hit once and then falls down or tackled with proper tackling form, don't they still get credit for a tackle? It's all the same.

Sure. The Portland police are wonderful, especially outstanding men like Westerman and Humphreys. It's why the Portland public loves and respects its police so completely. Everything's fine.

I agree with Nancy. If they ever admitted wrongdoing, or took responsibility their actions, it would be a whole different ballgame.

It gives me chills when I think about PPB having carte blanche to kill with impunity unarmed people and then LIE about it. Always with gosh-darn lies.

I never had a negative experience with law enforcement before coming to Portland and dealing North Precinct cops. NEVER. My then very-young child has never forgotten waking up in a car seat to see me physically threatened over a burned out tailight. No DUI, insured, licensed and never got a traffic ticket nor been arrested. I wasn't loud nor belligerent. In that moment, I knew that none of that mattered if the cop decided to kill me. My child has a very different view of cops than I did as a child and young adult, as a result of the trauma of that incident which is revisisted everytime an unarmed person is killed by cops.

That makes me sad. I would love for my kid to run to a cop for help rather than a away in fear. awesome public relations move!

That said, I have met some cool cops since but the overarching philosophy seems to be like Westerman and King.

Sadly it seems Westerman is just a clone of
that arch-jerk Robert King. Both have blood
on their hands, both have killed citizens,
both defend their actions, both defend any
and all incidents whereby a fellow cop is
nothing but a KILLER-COP in spite of all the
evidence to the contrary. When I sat on a
jury that heard testimony from King, we all
noted that he was callous, lacking in any
human warmth, and devoid of creditability;
and our jury verdict reflected our disgust
with him as much it did with the poor case
presented by the DA. The fact that King was
so well known as was his attitude/history, I
am sure alerted us to be very cautionary to
whatever he said. Now, the same will be felt
for Westerman...just another PPB-jerk telling
whatever lies need to be told to hold tight the
Blue Curtain that seems to always so cover the
TRUTH of what really happens when PPB goes
to work. In my humble opinion, Westerman is
just as much a jerk as is King, Humphreys,
Nice and Barton...none of whom have my respect
nor admiration. Shame on them all! Shame
on all of us for tolerating these creeps!

Don't confuse state murder or manslaughter elements with civil rights elements of proof with regard to this incident. Under the civil rights statute (42 USC sec.1983) pertaining to unreasonable seizure under the 4th amendment, the question is; given the totality of the circumstances was the seizure reasonable?
The criminal equivalent is whether the officer intentionally inflicted unreasonable force in effecting the seizure under the totality of the circumstances. Has the US Attorney's office weighed in on this?

The Police Bureau currently has over 1,000 sworn officers on the force serving the city of Portland. I think that should be remembered when the actions of a few officers are over generalized and applied to the force as a whole. Over the course of a year, each of those officers has contact with countless people of all walks of life within the city. From the routine traffic stops to highly volatile situations where lives may be at risk. When all of those contacts are added up, I'm sure it'd be safe to say that hundreds of thousands of police contacts occur within the city in any given year. Unfortunately, some of those turn out badly. This thankfully constitutes a very small percentage - very small.

I believe any time someone loses their life there should be transparency and a thorough investigation into what occurred. I just think we shouldn't also lose sight of the fact that there are over a thousand people who have chosen to serve the city and the citizens of Portland, placing their own life on the line for it. They are the ones we call for help in times we most need it. The majority of those people on the streets serving us day in and day out are out there for the right reasons, simply there to help us.

I also think we sometimes lose sight of the fact of how dangerous law enforcement can be. I think we should be thankful that these people have chosen to stand up and put themselves in harms way for us daily. It is a job that puts them face to face with death frequently, so we civilians don't have to. They are willing to give their lives for us - as several have in Portland. That being said, criminal actions by the police should not be tolerated. Overall, I just think we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there are officers on the street everyday in Portland willing to help all of us - without hesitation - to keep us safe - placing themselves in harms way to do so. We shouldn't disparage them as a whole and call their good intentions and actions into question for the conduct of a very small number of them who are involved in this controversy.

"... a very small number of them who are involved in this controversy."

Yeah, 'small' like the president of the union.

Look, We the People can collect all the badges and Poobah Paraphenalia, (they can keep their guns), and write down the Pension Fund to zero. They're all fired. Save ourselves scads of money and taxes.

What're they gonna do, call the cops?

Then a re-hiring process can start, filling the department positions according to standard public-employee requirements -- such as 4-year college degree, background checks, credit history, etc. -- open to applicants from all 50 states.

Or, We the People can do nothing and stand by the trench we dug and let them shoot us.

Then a re-hiring process can start, filling the department positions according to standard public-employee requirements -- such as 4-year college degree, background checks, credit history, etc.

Best idea I have heard all day. While we're at it, routine and frequent drug tests (including steroids) for all officers.

Thanks for thoughtful post, Martha.

You are the yin to Tenske's yang.

And I would support drug testing all city employees, not just the police officers. They are all public servants, and we should expect them to be drug free.

Martha, I completely agree. My point is that if the rank and file majority of police who really do the great service that you describe (and they do) continue to stand behind their bulldog union mouthpieces, they lose the goodwill of the public. Your average citizen is extremely happy to see a police officer when they are needed. But when they elect spokespersons like Westerman who spew 'take no prisoners' attitudes in regard to every questionable police encounter, the average police officer's reputation is jeopardized by the few bad cops that they protect.

Have they not learned anything from the politics of the last eight years? The public is waking up, and I don't think they will swallow rhetoric such as that dished up by Westerman.

Much as I often disagree with Tensk about stuff like the (IMHO) global warming fraud, I have to admit...he's right on the money with this one.

I grew up in Texas, and I never distrusted those cops like I do these. My job offers me 12 hours a night to observe them abusing the citizenry and breaking every law they feel like.

Hell, what the economy imploding all around us, maybe we won't have to get all that proactive about cutting off the PPB's water, after all.

I'm refinishing the stock of my replica 1887 12 gauge right now...I don't even need a police force one tenth the size of the PPB all that much in the event of trouble in my neighborhood, anyway.

Let what money is left in the coffers go to something that isn't run lock, stock, and barrel by brazen murderers and their accomplices, like the Fire Dept.


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Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 285
At this date last year: 137
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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