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Summary

On September 17, 2006 James Chasse was stopped by three law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon in broad daylight. A dozen eyewitnesses watched in horror as the officers tackled, beat, kicked and Taser'd James until he lay motionless on the pavement with sixteen broken ribs and a punctured lung. He died in the back seat of a Portland Police car two hours later. James had not committed a crime, so why did the officers attack him? Who was James Chasse? The officers told eyewitnesses he was a drug dealer, a homeless person, a non-person, a ghost. But that wasn't true at all. James was a writer, an illustrator and a musician; he had a home and a family and friends who loved him. He was a small, shy, gentle person who had been living with schizophrenia for most of his life. ALIEN BOY: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JAMES CHASSE explores his childhood, his involvement in the early Portland punk music scene, the heart-breaking teenage onset of his schizophrenia and his brave efforts to avoid institutionalization and maintain his independence. Using interviews, personal writings, archival footage, official documents and videotaped depositions of the involved police officers, the film examines James Chasse's life and the police actions and decisions that led to his death. What emerges is an intimate and complex story of one man's life, the Chasse family's struggle for justice and a city and a system grappling with accountability.

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