May 11th, 2010 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Cops and Courts, CLEAN UP

In Payouts for Police Use of Force, Portland Really is a First-Tier City (Updated)

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Monday's $1.6 million settlement of the lawsuit over the death of James Chasse Jr. is the biggest payout over police use-of-force in city history. And it also plants Portland firmly as a first-tier city in at least one regard — the cost of covering its alleged police brutality.

An analysis by WW shows that compared with three other cities of comparable size, Portland is a frontrunner for the amount it's paid to people claiming excessive force by police over the past 15 years.

First up is Pittsburgh, population 316,718. According to records provided by the city of Pittsburgh, that city has paid $768,249 to settle claims on police use of force since 1995,

Next up is Sacramento, population 486,189. According to records provided by the city of Sacramento, that city has paid $2,008,168 to settle claims on police use of force since 1995.

Then there's Seattle, population 602,000. Officials at the city said they could provide records only since 2002. In that amount of time, the city paid $3,151,301 to settle claims on police use of force.

Let's compare those to Portland, population 582,000. According to records provided by the city, Portland paid $3,829,209 to settle lawsuits on police use of force since 1995. The biggest payout previously was $500,000 for the 2005 shooting of Raymond Gwerder.

That was all before Monday's Chasse settlement. Assuming the City Council approves the settlement, the grand total for Portland's payouts will jump to $5,429,209.

UPDATE: After our original post we spoke with City Attorney Linda Meng, who told us about a case that was not contained in the data provided by the city.

Meng says the largest payout before the proposed Chasse settlement was to the family of Damon Lowery, who was killed by police in 1999. Meng said the city paid $1 million total to Lowery's family, and the city's insurance company also paid the family an additional, undisclosed sum.

That brings Portland's total to $4.8 million so far, and $6.4 million if the Chasse settlement is approved — unless there are even more cases that weren't included in the report the city provided us.
 
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