City Commissioner Randy Leonard says he'll happily expand on his remarks about the "inexcusable and unjustifiable" death in custody of James Chasse at next week's council hearing, if the police chief and police commissioner don't back down on allowing water bureau security to be armed.
Willamette Week reporter Beth Slovic first reported on Leonard's plan to arm water bureau security last week. Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Police Chief Rosie Sizer have since both said they think the Portland Police Bureau should oversee security at the water bureau.
This morning, Leonard spoke out on the Chasse death, despite strict instructions to city commissioners not to talk about the incident, from the city attorney's office. A lawsuit is ongoing and expected to go to trial next March. He says he'll be happy to expand on his opinions about Chasse's death if Sizer and Saltzman don't back down over armed security for the water bureau by next week.
"Both Rosie Sizer and Dan Saltzman have publicly stated that the police bureau should oversee security for the water bureau," said Leonard, after this morning's council session. "But there is no circumstance under which I'd allow that agency to oversee Portland's most valuable asset."
"I have had experience of the bureau from being asked to conduct a study by Mayor Sam Adams, last year," said Leonard. "They have been insular and hostile to any suggestions. I could never ask a question or offer a suggestion, or propose an alternative. If, theoretically, the police bureau were running security at the Bull Run, and some incident occurred that I wanted a quick resolution of, and I hit a wall, as we have with the three-year inquiry into Mr.Chasse's death, it would be unconscionable to me."
Leonard said that's why he brought up Chasse's death today. "If the police commissioner and the police chief want to maintain their stance next week, I would be happy to expand on what I said today."
Saltzman's office declined comment. We have an enquiry in to the police chief and city attorney's office seeking comment and will update this post as necessary.