Officer in James Chasse case won't be prosecuted

Officer in James Chasse case won't be prosecuted

James Chasse



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 15 at 1:58 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Multnomah County District Attorney's office has decided to decline a case against a Portland Police officer involved with the in-custody death of James Chasse.

Officer Christopher Humphries helped pursue and tackle 42-year-old Chasse. Officers said he appeared to be urinating outdoors in Old Town on Sept. 17, 2006.

Officers later drove Chasse to jail, then a hospital, but he died on the way. An autopsy showed he had 26 rib fractures and a punctured lung, and concluded the death was caused by blunt force trauma to the chest.

Medics were called to the scene and Chasse showed normal vital signs, then officers took him to the Multnomah County Detention Center according to officers.

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According to the autopsy report, a nurse at the jail advised officers to take Chasse to the hospital. Police said he died as they were transporting him there, according to the report.

Investigators in October 2008 started looking at video taken from the jail during the incident.

The video of officers talking at the jail after they brought Chasse in captures Humphreys telling a sheriff's deputy that "we tackled him" and Chasse landed "hard." As Humphreys is heard telling jail staff that the officers tackled Chasse, his partner is seen showing a "bear-hug" stance.

'The DA's office has been reviewing new evidence that was made available in October 2008, involving Officer Christopher Humphreys and statements he made at the Multnomah County Detention Center shortly after Mr. Chasse was booked," Chief Rosie Sizer said in a statement. "The enhancement of audio from a jail video in October 2008 had not been previously considered by the DA's office. This case will now be assigned to the Bureau's Internal Affairs Division for review."

Sizer said the matter will still be addressed by police internal review.

Dr. Karen Gunson of the state medical examiner's office said that from a medical examiner's point of view, the officers involved did not know Chasse would die based on their actions.

The death led to new procedural training for officers.

Two officers and a sheriff's deputy were cleared of wrongdoing in 2007.

A civil suit was also filed against the city by the Chasse family in the case.

(KGW Reporter Anne Yeager contributed to this report)