Portland to pay $1.6M to Chasse family

Portland to pay $1.6M to Chasse family »Play Video

Portland's police chief speaks out after city settles for $1.6 million in a "death while in custody" case.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The City of Portland has agreed to a settlement in the civil lawsuit filed by family of James Chasse Jr.

The City of Portland has reached a tentative settlement amount of $1.6 million, according to confirmation from Chasse’s attorney’s office. We obtained a copy of the court document filed Monday, May 10, in U.S. District Court. It reads:

In the case of James P Chasse, Jr. (et al) against Christopher Humphreys (et al) "the court having been informed by counsel for the parties that this action has been settled. It is ordered that this action is dismissed without prejudice and without costs and with leave, upon good cause shown within 60 days, to have this order of dismissal set aside and the action reinstated if the settlement is not consummated."

James Chasse Jr., 42, died in police custody in 2006. He suffered 16 broken ribs and a punctured lung during his arrest, and died on his way from the jail to the hospital.

In 2006, a Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrong doing on the part of police officers involved in this case.

Meanwhile, Multnomah County settled its portion of the lawsuit this past July for $925,000. The ambulance company American Medical Response settled in January for a reported $600,000.

This settlement brings the total payout to $3.125 million for the Chasse family.

Just after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosanne Sizer issued this excerpted statement on the $1.6 million settlement:

"Nearly four years ago, James Chasse died in the custody of Portland Police officers. I and members of my organization felt horrible about his death. The Portland Police Bureau has spent the last three years identifying what went wrong and fixing those issues through improvements in policy, training and practice.

"I am relieved by the settlement of this case. And I believe that the Chasse family deserves compensation for their loss. 

"I hope that James Chasse's family also takes some comfort in the changes that the Portland Police has made. I believe that the settlement will help to bring closure to all involved parties as well as the community..."

Sizer went on to say she believes "the Portland Police Bureau and the individual officers have been unfairly demonized. James Chasse's death was a horrible accident and not a 'beating death.' That's what the Bureau's investigation showed, and nothing in the litigation proved otherwise ... James Chasse's death was an accident, a terrible, tragic accident."