The city auditor's office has released a report prepared by an outside firm, the OIR Group, concerning the death in police custody of James Chasse Jr. in 2006. Chasse suffered multiple broken ribs and injuries at the hands of cops who apprehended him at NW 13th and Everett, was taken to jail rather than to a hospital, was refused by jail staff due to his injuries, and died in a police car on the way to the emergency room.
The auditor's office strayed from its usual policy in commissioning the 80-page OIR report prior to the completion of civil litigation (May 2010 saw a $1.6 million settlement from the city to Chasse's family; Multomah County and the ambulance company whose driver said he could go to jail, AMR, settled separetely).
The report (PDF) says that much of the ensuing detectives' investigation, and review by the police's Internal Affairs Division (IAD), was satisfactory. But it makes many recommendations (starting on page 56), including:
The Bureau should consider adopting internal protocols for in-custody death investigations that recognize the advantage of on-scene face-to-face interviews for civilian eyewitnesses and the need to conduct those interviews shortly after the incident has occurred if practicable.
The Bureau should consider creating an internal policy that would set a realistic but certain deadline by which the Detectives’ notebook must be presented to IAD.
The Bureau should consider refinements to the Emergency Medical Custody Transport Directive to more clearly define PPB officers’ responsibilities.
The Bureau should consider revising its policies and training to prohibit officers’ transport of subjects in maximum restraints.
The Bureau should consider adopting a policy of not hiring lateral candidates from other law enforcement agencies while they are the subjects of pending administrative investigations.
Also of note is a timeline of the entire case, on page 55.
"The immediacy of the public’s interest in this case was clear and compelling, prompting us to move forward with an expert review once the investigations closed in September 2009," says City Auditor LaVonne Griffin Valade, in a press release.
The OIR Group will present the report to City Council on Wednesday, July 28 at 6 pm. We'll be there.