A tragic episode that spanned one hour and 46 minutes on Sept. 17, 2006, came to a close almost four years later at City Hall this morning. Commissioners today officially approved Portland's $1.6 million settlement
with the estate of James Chasse.
Following the 4-0 vote (Commissioner Dan Saltzman was absent due to illness) in council chambers, the Chasse family issued what is to be their only public statement on the settlement of their lawsuit stemming from Chasse's death in police custody in 2006.
"We are looking forward, finally, to seeking some personal closure to a gaping, four-year-old wound," the statement read. "It has been very difficult to continue dealing with what happened to James as a public matter, and we feel it is very important, finally, to seek some private peace."
The statement said the family chose to settle its lawsuit against the City of Portland because a trial would have been "a cruel ending to the four years of tormented mourning." It went further:
"Our lawyers advised us against the City's final offer. While they were certain that we would prevail and likely be awarded much more in monetary damages at trial, we felt there was little more for us to gain by proceeding through trial. It had become clear that the policy issues we feel are important (and sought to change in the lawsuit) would not be addressed in a trial or through settlement. The previously concealed facts will be made available to the public as part of the settlement. The trial promised to be at least three weeks long. We, James's family, would have had to, once again, endure the retelling of his violent, painful, and needless death, witnessing dozens of gruesome autopsy photos of James, listening to days of testimony about how and why his bones broke, and enduring false and offensive attacks on James and the mentally ill."
Lawyers for the Chasse family say they plan to release additional information about the Chasse family's investigation of Chasse's death in the coming weeks, pending approval from U.S. District Court Judge Garr King.