Controversy Over Police Discipline Renewed after Arbitrator Rules in Chasse Case
Chasse family challenges mayoral candidates to speak out on police contract
Helen Silvis Of The Skanner News
July 16, 2012
|The only known image of the arrest scene of James Chasse, who died later of blunt force trauma.|
Arbitrator D.W. Wiliams ruled July 9, that the city should not have suspended Sgt. Kyle Nice and Officer Christopher Humphries for 80 hours without pay. The arbitrator told the city to revoke the discipline and restore the lost wages.
In a statement, Chasse’s brother said: “Apparently, two weeks' leave was too severe of a punishment for beating my brother to death and ensuring that he did not get proper medical treatment for the gruesome injuries they inflicted on him.”
Chasse’s father criticized the city attorney’s office and the police, saying, “I have to believe the [administrative action] was weak by directive, and the contracts entered into with the union probably encourage weak managerial control by the people being served.”
The Chasse family is asking mayoral candidates Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith to speak up about the police contract, and how they would fix it.
The arbitrator’s report said that the discipline was not justified under the article cited in the police contract. The report reads,
“Ultimately the Arbitrator determined that the City failed to prove its charges against both Grievants. In the Arbitrator’s view, the facts of the case do not support a conclusion that the policy was violated particularly in light of the fact that competent medical personnel approved or directed the transportation of Mr. Chasse by police car.
Rev. Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Jr, chair of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform released a statement saying:
"This decision shows that the supposedly neutral arbitrators are unfairly biased towards the police. In every case where an officer has been disciplined for deadly force, the arbitrators have overturned the findings. Nobody has 100 percent track record, not even Perry Mason. We must get the undue influence of the Portland Police Association neutralized in the next contract negotiations so we can truly have community control of the police."
And Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch, who also serves on the coalition’s steering committee said:
"It seems that the City messed up (again!) by not sustaining a broad enough number of policy violations, and doing a poor job of defending their actions in suspending the officers. The arbitrator repeatedly notes how Sgt. Nice and Officer Humphreys' actions led to a tragedy, but doesn't acknowledge that therefore they appropriately should have been disciplined."