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Chasse grand jury to meet until next week

Due to the "unavailability of a witness," the grand jury meeting on the in-custody death of James Chasse Jr. will likely stretch into next week, Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer said Wednesday in a statement.

Previously, Portland police and the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office had said they expected the grand jury to conclude Thursday.

'Following the conclusion of the grand jury, the Police Bureau is committed to providing an extremely detailed account of the what led up to the initial contact with Mr. Chasse and the actions of all those involved throughout the entire incident," Sizer wrote in the statement. "I ask that people be patient until we have the opportunity to provide this briefing and begin what I hope will be a broad-based discussion on not only the specifics of this incident, but also the issues that law enforcement and the community face in dealing with people who suffer from a mental illness.'

On Tuesday, as the grand jury convened to decide whether to indict the Portland police officers involved Chasse's death, his family released a State Medical Examiner's report on the circumstances surrounding his death.

According to the 21-page report, Chasse, 42, died of blunt force trauma to the chest caused by multiple rib fractures, a punctured left lung and "intense" internal bleeding. An attached toxicology report indicated that no drugs or alcohol were in Chasse's system at the time of his death. Although the report lists Chasse's cause of death as blunt force trauma, his manner of death is listed as accidental.

Police said that on the night of Sept. 17, Chasse ran from them near the corner of Northwest 13th Avenue and Everett Street, where, they said, he appeared to be publicly urinating. He then allegedly resisted arrest, leading to an altercation and multiple uses of a Taser.

But police said that the Taser had no effect and that Chasse bit one officer and tried to bite another. According to three eyewitnesses who filed complaints with the Independent Police Review office, the officers, in addition to Tasering him, punched and kicked Chasse until he appeared to be unconscious.

The autopsy report was written before the Portland police officers involved were interviewed by homicide detectives, so many of its details are sketchy. But the report said the officers then called for an ambulance and "it was reported the ambulance arrived to find the subject conscious with his vital signs being normal."

Chasse was then transported to jail, where a nurse recommended he be taken to Portland Adventist Hospital for evaluation, the report said, which detectives on the scene apparently believed was for "a mental evaluation."

The Chasse family has said James Chasse Jr. suffered from mental illness, including schizophrenia.

But on the way to the hospital, Chasse slumped, lifeless, in the back of the squad car, the report said. The officers transporting him stopped, called for medics and borrowed a defibrillator from a passing jogger, who kept one of the emergency devices at his nearby home.

When American Medical Response personnel arrived, they tried to resuscitate Chasse, but he was eventually transported to Providence Portland Medical Center, where he died. According to the report, AMR medics may not have known a Taser was used on Chasse and were not told he had been in respiratory arrest.

The report noted that medics said that they had left the officers to decide whether to transport Chasse to jail and that they did not know whether the defibrilator had been used on Chasse.

Nick Budnick contributed to this report.