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Monday, October 5, 2009

Mental Health Groups Want Chasse Cops To Quit

Posted by Matt Davis on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 11:35 AM

An alliance of four Mental Health groups plans to call Thursday for the resignation of the three Portland police officers involved in the death in custody of James Chasse, a man with schizophrenia, back in 2006.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Disability Rights Oregon, the Mental Health Association of Oregon and the Mental Health Association of Portland plan a joint press conference on Thursday morning at the offices of Disability Rights Oregon, to make the formal request. That's 620 SW 5th. 9am. Thursday.

"We really want people to come out and say their piece," says Jason Renaud with the Mental Health Association of Portland, who last week accused the city of impunity in its inquiry into Chasse's death. "This is not about police officers in general, it is about three specific people who are really in the middle of a tussle. Their continuing to serve as officers is what's causing this friction, and if they resign, then the friction goes away."

The groups are calling on City Commissioners to come along, or send word that they support the call for the resignations of Officers Christopher Humphreys and Bret Burton, and Sergeant Kyle Nice.

"They should do something else for a living," says Renaud.

We have a request in for comment with the Portland Police Association. Update, 1:22pm:

"These people are so focused on these three officers that they're ignoring the fact that this is how the bureau has trained its officers," says Scott Westerman, PPA president. "If they want to affect something, they should change the training around mental health issues, and in fact, the chief has done that."

"But they are so focused on these three individuals that they're ignoring the fact that everyone who has reviewed the circumstances around the incident—the District Attorneys, the grand jury, the inquiry, and I happen to believe that the civil trial will as well—have recognized that what happened was not because of a wrong action by the officers but by the totality of a series of tragic events."

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