Attorneys for the family of James Chasse, the man who died in police custody in Sept 2006 after having been tackled to the ground and beaten in the street, have released video of Chasse's booking at the Multnomah County Detention Center to the Tribune this morning. You can watch all 13 minutes of the video at the Mental Health Association of Portland's website. Here, for example, is Chasse being bought into the booking area, before the camera loses sight of him in a holding cell. It's the last time Chasse has been seen alive by the public.
Crucially, there's audio on the tape, that appears to contradict Officer Christopher Humphreys' testimony to detectives investigating the incident. Nick Budnick does a good job of dissecting the incident over at the Trib, where I suggest you check it out. But the crux is this: Humphreys told internal affairs detectives he "shoved" Chasse, whereas he's heard on the jail tape talking about how he tackled him. Sheriff's Deputy Brett Burton says "ooof," mimicking the noise Chasse made when he hit the ground. They're laughing about the incident. It's surreal.
Experts quoted in Budnick's article agree that the tape should put pressure on city attorneys defending the case. I tend to agree with them. As a disclaimer, I'm involved in making a documentary about Chasse's life and death. More here.
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