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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Money isn't everything, we hope

It appears they've put a final price tag on the life of James Chasse -- the slight, fragile, mentally ill man who was senselessly beaten to death by unfit Portland police officers in September 2006. Reports are that the Chasse family and the city have reached a settlement of the pending civil lawsuit.

The exact amount that the city or its insurers will pay is sure to make headlines when it's revealed. But far more important for the future of the city is the question of how much of the evidentiary record developed in the lawsuit will be made public. The Chasses will never get James back, and they have every right to put this tragedy behind them on whatever terms they find acceptable. But we pray that they bargained hard enough to make the record public, so that the city's residents will see exactly what happened, and take steps to make sure that this sort of police violence does not recur.

When people criticize the police after they kill someone without justification, the police defenders and enablers are always quick to pop up and say, "Don't jump to conclusions until we have all the facts." But we never seem to get all the facts. Chasse's been dead more than three and a half years, and there is still evidence that hasn't seen the light of day. Let's hope it does, and soon.

Comments (15)

Seems to me there's a fine line between 'settlements' and hush money.

I haven't been following this case that closely, but did the police officers ever admit any wrong doing?

Well put, Jack.

This case is the perfect example of why Oregon should ban secret settlements for everybody, so that it's not up to the poor plaintiffs to resist the defendants' pressure to buy concealment.

As a condition of filing a suit in a public court provided with public dollars and staffed by public servants should be that, to withdraw the suit, you have to file any settlement agreement reached, and that any plaintiff who attempts to conceal a settlement has their settlement voided and their case dismissed so that it can't be refiled.

Don't want to settle publicly? Fine, don't file the suit. But if you want the leverage that using the public court system gives you, then you have to pay the price: the final deal is a public record.

Manufacturers and bullies of all sorts love the secret settlement process -- they fight the suits until they're convinced that they're going to lose and then they buy silence from their victims so that they can continue victimizing others. It should not be allowed.

Last night on the 10 o'clock news (KGW on Channel 3) they hyped the settlement story as Number 2 on their "10 at 10". Then they completed eliminated reporting the story and didn't mention it again.

I wonder if they thought it was a little premature for a network news station to rely on The Mercury for breaking news.

I dont see how they could morally want to become rich off a family member's wrongful death without public disclosure. Its just a "lawsuit lottery" win otherwise. Just seems wrong.

And lets face it.....the monetary penalty isnt punishing the Portland Police Bureau.

It'd be nice if most or all of the settlement checks were dedicated to a cause to help folks like Chaisse rather than going towards family and lawyers. Paying a settlement might not impact the City's / PPB's bottom line, but using the money to improve things might make a difference.

With such graphic video available and such an obvious obstructive coverup by Rosie and the gang,why hasn't 20/20 or 48Hours picked up on this yet?

Doesn't a percentage of the $ awarded in civil suits go to some fund or another?

Lewis, 60% of punitive damage awards go to the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund. Other civil damage awards go to the plaintiff.

So the 'O' estimates the settlement at $1.6 million....what did it cost the city in investigative costs, city attorney fees, and the high priced attorney to represent the city:

"The news comes six weeks after the city's insurance company hired big name lawyer Anne Bremner to represent the city at trial"
- according to Matt Davis.

The City is self-insured. What's the real cost to us? It's our tax dollars.

1.6 million. What a pittance. I would have liked to see 22 milion. 222 million. THAT would have lit a fire in the old bureaucratic panty-liners, vis a vis the rotten elements in the PPD.

truly the only real way to punish the PPB is
to actually fire the three thugs that kicked
and stomp Chasse to death as paying out $$$
from our pockets doesn't do a darn thing to
make the copster's wake up and smell all the
dung they're created. NOW, we need to put
as much pressure on Salztman,Sizer and Adams
to do what's RIGHT...fire all three and do it now
...just be damned and done with 'em one time
for all time. Let's go...

Again, we need to salvage something from this horrible situation, and that's a clear, unambiguous policy that says that whenever there's a police-caused death (shooting, chokehold, beating, tazing, pepper-spray, being put in a restraint chair and not being able to breathe, anything) of an unarmed person, the cop is separated from the job, whether they are separately prosecuted or otherwise punished. Period. Simple rule -- if a civilian dies, and you caused it, intentionally or not, you are not a cop here any longer. No exceptions.

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