Posts tagged: Otto Zehm
Good morning, Netizens…
Paraphrasing one of those woefully-hackneyed movies you often encounter on various Western TV channels once said, “Yesterday was a good day for a hanging.”
That's because Karl Thompson, AKA Karl the Klubber, was sentenced yesterday for the beating death of Otto Zehm after a prolonged period of attorney-induced waiting. Somehow it always come back to this, that if that were yours truly charged with such an onerous crime, given the deplorable legal resources available to me, I would already be in the federal penitentiary doing hard time for perhaps as much as twenty years. Given the number of aging fat body diseases and maladies I already suffer from, there is reasonable doubt if I would have survived the first year.
However, Karl Thompson hasn't lack for legal representation, no. He's been on the public's dime, thus far, for approximately $500,000 in costs, which may increase dramatically when or if the verdict yesterday goes to appeals court. You and I, as citizens of Spokane, are paying for Karl's legal fees, not to mention the costs of his incarceration pending appeal.
As you probably know, Thompson was sentenced to 4 years three months time. There were no stand-up salutes from Spokane's finest, or police social parties this time around. Thompson has left the court room yesterday in handcuffs in the custody of the U.S. Marshall's Service.
Everyone from the lawyers to the Mayor to the Chief of Police all intoned their respective pieces before the cameras outside the court in the aftermath of Thompson being taken into custody at the end of the sentencing. All promised that the Spokane Police Department had learned their lessons from the death of Otto Zehm, however questions remain in my mind how durable and lasting those lessons will be.
All that I have, as a bystander to history, is the terribly saddening images of how Otto Zehm died, and the manner in which the police standing outside the Zip Trip Store huddled together in the night air, attempting to perfect the story they would later report on the evening news of how things were. Please remember, Karl Thompson wasn't the only person who fabricated the truth that fateful night. He may have been just the scapegoat.
Is this closure we have been promised? Perhaps, but then perhaps not. Of course, your view of matters may differ.
Good morning, Netizens…
I've been waiting patiently as all the various members of the news media have danced a fandango over the proposed settlement between the City of Spokane and the Otto Zehm family, but I still have not seen anyone with either the honesty or temerity to state on the public record WHO was factually responsible for the mess our current city government finds itself in. Was it, as most seem to assume, a band of renegade police officers and commanders who failed to follow good policies regarding the abuse of authority? Or, was it the shadow land governance of the Police Guild responsible for most of what has gone wrong with the police? There are, in fact, a lot of others in City Hall who by their lack of honesty who could easily be considered at fault, but who are they?
I remember with some clarity the first time I coined the phrase “Queen Mary” referring to our former mayor with a somewhat unprofessional bit of journalistic backhand humor. My insight, at the time, was that Queen Mary wanted so badly to be the “Queen of the Prom” she forgot who it was who voted her into office, all except for a select few of her friends and political allies. Queen Mary loved appearing in the public eye, so long as no one asked her any really “tough” questions. Perhaps that is the primary reason why she was a one-term Mayor after all.
Then there was former Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi, who I believe spent more time abusing citizens of Spokane than he did seeking justice for anyone other than the ruling faction(s) in City Hall, and I, for one, am glad he is no longer part of our City Government.
Include at least two former Mayors, a handful of City Council members, including Joe Shogun, a handful of lower-level administrators, lawyers and other luminaries and you just about have the picture. I had very little reason to trust any of these people. They tried unsuccessfully to make Otto Zehm appear guilty. They lied.
As in any case where the powers and authorities of the city government are involved, regardless how messy they might be, the underlying question that always seems to remain is just when can I start trusting our city government? Some members of the news media are right: this isn't about the money. They have six long years of deception to make right.
Good morning, Netizens…
Interim Spokane Police Chief Scott Stevens publicly acknowledged yesterday that the Spokane Police Department made troubling mistakes while investigating the 2006 confrontation that resulted in the death of Otto Zehm.
Stephens went on to state that he disagrees with Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, who called the department’s Zehm investigation an “extensive cover-up” and “violent abuse of power.” Stephens promises an open, candid discussion with the community about what went wrong as well as what went right in the case once the Zehm family’s civil lawsuit against the city is settled.
“I think it’s important … so the public has confidence in what we are doing,” the interim chief said. “I’m more than happy to share what those lessons were and what changes were made when it is appropriate. My desired outcome is that we restore the public trust and confidence in their department.”
Restore public trust and confidence in the Spokane Police Department?
It's been six years since the death of Otto Zehm. How many more years do the citizens of Spokane have to wait for the high-ranking SPD to tell all of the truth all the time? How much longer do we have to wait for that liar Rocky Treppiedi to leave public office for good?
I've been harping about the death of Otto Zehm since his murder took place in 2006, to such a degree that I wonder how much longer we have to scream at the top of our lungs to obtain our rights?
Good morning, Netizens…
Is this a coincidence or not?
I've never met Tom Clouse, a reporter for the Spokesman-Review, although if I did manage to meet him, I'd thank him for the good job he did covering the Otto Zehm trial in far-off Yakima, maybe even take him out for coffee. He led the Spokesman’s coverage of Otto Zehm’s death at the hands of Spokane police and the subsequent trial and conviction of Officer Karl F. Thompson.
While he was covering the trial in Yakima, somebody stole his big Ford F-250 from his driveway, and looted his entire house, from top to bottom. All kinds of stuff missing: a World War II sidearm, his late wife's jewelry, Bic lighters and perhaps more. According to the Inlander story, one of the ostensible burglars even gnawed on a piece of purloined cheese from the kitchen and left the remnants on the crime scene. As you can perhaps tell, we really have high-class health-conscious burglars here in Spokane.
To his credit, Clouse did attempt to get the Spokane Police to take evidence from the crime scene for DNA testing, but police, even the FBI, refused. According to the Inlander story, they haven't even gotten around to sending the fingerprints out for testing. I'd be steamed if I was the victim.
The $42,000 in losses at Clouse's house were all covered by insurance. That won't bring back all of his late wife's jewelry, her mother’s jewelry and grandmother’s jewelry, including the wedding rings. There was already a big hole in Clouse's life because he recently observed the second anniversary of his late wife's death. Of course if you are a crook, you hit a man when he's down, before he can stand up and face you.
But the Clouse burglary is only one of what I think is more than a coincidence.
Burglars also ostensibly hit Attorney Breean Beggs, who has represented the Otto Zehm family since 2009, as was civil attorney Jeffry Finer.
None of the usual talking heads, including Mayor David Condon, will meaningfully comment on the likelihood that these crimes against three people who have worked exhaustively on the Otto Zehm case, could possibly be retribution.
Is this a coincidence? It certainly doesn't seem that way, does it? Of course, your results may differ. Portions of this story were excerpted all or in part from The Inlander.
Good morning, Netizens…
This belated greetings comes to you after a marathon 19 hour work day, which was preceded by another killer of a day just before it. Somehow, through the miracle of the Internet, I have been closely following the various Twitter feeds from Yakima in the Otto Zehm affair, and I must admit, as excellent as the reporting has been my stomach has suffered recurring bouts of serious upset as I suspect, although I cannot prove beyond a question of a doubt, that this entire case, rather than a search for the truth of the murder of Otto Zehm, is a search for ways to find everyone involved, from Karl Thompson to Mayor Queen Mary Verner not guilty of any malfeasance, and leaving their hands as lily-white as snow.
The facts, such as they are, in the form of the grainy video from the Zip Trip Store, are just vague enough that I question whether they will ever find Karl Thompson guilty, much less all the others who played roles in this ongoing travesty of justice. People lied. Others, including Rocky Treppiedi, tried to circumvent or at least bend the will of the Grand Jury to their goals of thwarting justice.
Of course, few of these transgressions will ever be brought before a judge and jury. That, in my opinion, is the unfortunate and miserably sad truth of the trial of Karl Thompson. Even if they succeed in finding Thompson guilty, the “big fish” have skated away unscathed and thus justice for Otto Zehm has not been served.
In my opinion, it is time to overhaul the system. Of course, your opinions could differ.
Good evening Netizens…
We have been bystanders for over five years as the Otto Zehm homicide has inexorably ground its way through the news, and until recently we were none the better-informed for it. All we knew for a certainty was that an innocent man was beaten to death and asphyxiated by a group of cops in a Zip Trip Store. Fortunately, there were damning videotapes which showed the grisly beating, and the total lack of violent behavior on Zehm's part. Every time anyone got too close to the truth of the matter, they were either ignored entirely or the City Government sought to nullify their actions and words.
Our own Mayor, who I gleefully call Queen Mary, for her imperious, high-handed manner of governance, has apparently sought to sweep the entire affair beneath the rug. The reign of terror hardly stops there, which is more a condemnation of our City Government than other incidents of the past involving our Spokane Police Department. There is no lack of corruption in City Hall, nor in the Police Department. So it doesn't surprise me in the least that our Chief of Police Anne Kirkpatrick and Assistant Chief Jim Nicks are both bailing out of the Police Department while the chances are still good they might get away unscathed.
Chief Kirkpatrick has made no bones about the fact she was leaving, and has bid on several jobs in other police jurisdictions in the past. Unfortunately, the Spokane Police Guild cast a vote of “no confidence” in her leadership just days after federal documents revealed that Nicks had reversed his earlier statements and was expected to testify against Karl Thompson, the man who ceaselessly beat Otto Zehm that ill-fated night.
Now that the zipper has been unzipped from City Hall, and various other elements of government, we can see the filthy hands of Ernie Wuthrich, the head of the Police Guild, is not necessarily working toward justice for all. Rocky Treppiedi, like Wuthrich, works for his own designs, best-known for suing citizens who have an ordinary grievance with City Hall. More sweeping goes on in City Hall in 2008 and 2009 when Rocky Treppiedi, according to court records, begins preparing “the majority” of Spokane police officers for testimony before the federal grand jury and debriefs them afterward about what they said. This also includes non-police witnesses.
Too little too late, Queen Mary announces in a press conference that she will be conducting a full internal and external review of the city’s handling of the case of Otto Zehm. Why did she wait so long? Was this the power the Police Guild has over Queen Mary?
Wait until the criminal trial works its way onto the federal Court docket. There may be other surprises which wait unseen, and other names may come into play. Perhaps Queen Mary will descend from the throne of the City of Spokane and somehow manage to put a good face on all the corruption.
Of course, your results may differ.
Good morning, Netizens…
In case you haven't been following recent news surrounding the Otto Zehm murder investigation, yesterday events got even more harried, hectic and somewhat misleading than they have been in recent times, especially from the perspective of Mayor Queen Mary Verner and various City Hall luminaries which will be mentioned by name as this article progresses. It has been nearly five years since Otto Zehm was murdered by the Spokane Police Department in a North Side Zip Trip store, and the details of how Otto met his demise have been in what appears to be a constant state of flux, depending upon whom was making the statements.
The search for truth has expanded its sphere from the various investigative officers of the Spokane Police Department to include Queen Mary Verner, City Attorney Howard Delaney Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to name a few. Unfortunately, now the tale of Otto Zehm has even reached the offices of the U.S. Attorney's office, and this is where, in the words of retired detective Ron Wright, “the wheels began to fall off the cart.”
David Condon, Verner's political opponent in the upcoming election, already had opened up a can of worms when he stated earlier in the week that the upcoming trial of Karl Thompson would serve as “an indictment” of City Government. Yesterday, when Mayor Verner scheduled her press conference, she had no stated reason for excluding Councilman Bob Apple from the list of Council members Verner had invited to attend, but Apple showed up of his own accord and wasted little time in asking why Verner had waited so long to pursue an investigation into the Zehm affair.
Is there a coverup unfolding in City Hall, as some have suggested? Is there a lack of transparency in City Government, as others have suggested? Have the wheels fallen off the cart of City Government? Has there been a coverup of the facts surrounding the murder of Otto Zehm?
At least from my perspective, it would seem so. Of course, your results and opinions may differ.
Good afternoon, Netizens…
Like a vaunted knight of old, I have been futilely railing at Queen Mary Verner, Joe Shogun, Rocky Treppiedi, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and a host of other high-ranking city officials for what may seem like a lifetime to some, and until very recently, it would seem that I was wasting my breath and time. However, in today's paper, someone lit the fuse beneath Jonathan Brunt, reporter for the Spokesman-Review, and he posted what I feel is one of the most-informative, honest and dead-on stories about the murder of Otto Zehm since this entire ugly affair first hit our fair city.
We are getting closer to the truth, and Brunt may have shown us the pathway to follow. Read the entire piece, including the comments (of which there are many) here:
As in most criminal affairs, it all comes down to who knew, when did they know and why is it only now we, the citizens, are hearing bits and pieces of the truth?
The citizens of our fair city can either sit on their hams and watch City Hall rearrange the facts to suit themselves, thus keeping the people in the dark, or the citizens can take action at the ballot box. One way or the other, it is time for action. Of course, your thoughts on this matter may differ.
Good evening, Netizens…
At some considerable risk of having this message zotted by my handlers, I am going to post this message from former Sheriff Tony Bamonte to Tim Durkin, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. I am posting it verbatim, in its entirety, in the hopes that others might read and carefully consider Mr. Bamonte's impeccable comments regarding the murder of Otto Zehm. I knew from the beginning that something was horribly wrong about the initial police version of what had transpired, and recent developments make me even more certain we were misled from the beginning.
So, without further ado, here is former Sheriff Tony Bamonte's letter:
Dear Mr. Durkin:
Please accept this correspondence as a formal complaint against the following people: Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Spokane City Attorney Howard Delaney, and assistant city attorney Rocky Trepeddi. I am making my complaint to you because of your involvement and knowledge about the Zehm case. I ask that you forward this complaint to the attorney general for his approval. I believe you already have strong evidence to prove that, in harmony with each other, the above community leaders have conspired to mislead and have deceived the public for over five years. This concerns what appears to be the brutal killing of an innocent citizen by a police officer. The evidence of this has been overwhelming and exceptionally clear. I am especially concerned about Mayor Verner’s conduct in the case. In her position she is the only public official in the city with the power to remove the city attorney and the police chief for criminal behavior, yet, to this date, has taken no action of any kind.
Most important, in the positions each of these officials occupy, it was their duty to find and know the truth and protect the public. Instead, I allege each one of them knew the truth, yet in violation of their oaths and with complete disregard for the public’s welfare, publicly lied and concealed this felony crime. Further, I believe that the officers involved had to have been directed by their legal council to lie. The complicity of Mayor Verner and Chief Kirkpatrick is profound. Their failure to know the facts behind this case is unbelievable as they are both attorneys involved in one of Spokane’s largest scandals. Why would the mayor of Washington’s second largest city, make the public statement “In my opinion, … I just don’t think that the behavior of the officer rose to criminal behavior”?
In her position, this was a criminal act and violation of her oath of office in a direct attempt to deceive the public. I am a 25-year veteran of law enforcement, having served eight years on the Spokane Police Department and 12 years as the elected sheriff of Pend Oreille County. Consequently, I clearly recognize how government works, who will have the facts as fast as they become available, and who makes the decisions in high-profile cases such as this. This constitutes a number of criminal acts and is willful and wanton disregard for the safety of our community by Mayor Verner.
There is an established pattern of Spokane’s public officials lying to the public and committing serious crimes that go uncharged or prosecuted. Now, you have irrefutable evidence that Spokane’s top officials have became part of a cover-up by our police department of a senseless killing. It appears they will not have to answer for their crimes. It looks that Deputy Nicks struck a deal to protect the main suspects. I hope that’s not the case.
Again, please accept this letter as a formal complaint to investigate and charge these public officials with violating whatever laws they have broken – the list is long.
Good morning, Netizens…
To quote the Spokesman-Review's Shawn Vestal, in speaking of Jim Nicks' erratic and misleading trip to the truth regarding the death of Otto Zehm, “It took just five years, 20 weeks and a day.” That, folks, is just too damned long for a so-called leader of Spokane's Police Department, let alone any leader of government.
Oh, I am reasonably certain, given the opportunity, to reel his statements made at the time, Jim Nicks would probably gleefully take back everything he said about Officer Karl Thompson's assault on Otto Zehm, but this that isn't going to happen. The cat is out of the bag, and the truth is pretty ugly. A police officer, our Acting Chief at the time, lied to everyone, either by omission or by intent. He should have looked carefully at the videotape from the Zip Trip before he opened his mouth, and he did not.
Shawn Vestal's fact-filled article, which is located at http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/aug/10/shawn-vestal-truth-about-zehm-sure-took-a-while/ pretty much says it all.
For the sake of absolute clarity, what this is not about is the rank-and-file policemen and policewomen who put their lives on the line every day in their performance of their duties. Their thankless and often dangerous job is a mean, ugly job. They serve as human garbage disposal experts combined with social workers extraordinaire; they deal with the dregs of society that none of us are capable nor eager to contend with, and yet deal with compassion with those of society in need. That pretty much describes their jobs, and I, for one, will not disparage their efforts.
No, the Otto Zehm death is all about a handful of police commanders who lied, and perhaps even attempted to cover it up. Particularly the lies started with Jim Nicks and Karl Thompson. In the words of our current police chief, Anne Kirkpatrick, “You lie, you die.” Will anyone in Spokane's City government have the temerity to hold Kirkpatrick to her word?
It is time to excise the cancer. Five years is too long to wait.
Good morning, Netizens…
First, before I revisit the sordid tale of how Otto Zehm was killed by the Spokane Police Department, I’m going to point you in a direction which I feel everyone needs to read. First, browse to http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/15/feds-testimony-altered/?documents and realizing that it is a large PDF document and because it will take a considerable amount of time to digest, brace yourself and download the PDF file to your computer.
While you are at it, you might also read Thomas Clouse’s excellent article in the Spokesman relating to what we, prior to this time, have suspected but lacking evidence, could never prove. Browse to http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/15/feds-testimony-altered/ and take out your notebooks. There is a lot to be digested here.
Karl Thompson notwithstanding, there are a well-known cast of miscreants in the story listed above and especially in the PDF file. There are allegations of trickery, deception, outright lying and altered public records, and these are allegedly just the members of the Spokane Police Department. Then there is that despicable Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi, of whom it is alleged he directly ignored repeated attempts to obtain public records and perhaps may have even conspired with others to thwart the federal grand jury investigation. Read the PDF. It gets worse than that.
According to preliminary findings, there was no allegations of aggressive behavior shown by Otto Zehm against police. However, there is ample proof on the Zip Trip videotapes that police beat the crap out of Otto Zehm while he attempted to protect his head and face from repeated blows with a 2 liter Pepsi bottle. All he wanted was a candy bar and a bottle of pop. Instead he ended up dead.
Kudos to Mr. Clouse for going with this controversial story and to Jeanie for advising me while I was away at work. This all makes me even more hungry for the truth once the Grand Jury returns with an opinion.
Rest in Peace, Otto. At least., based upon the information we now have, you might actually have a chance at the justice you so richly deserve.
As I brought in the paper this morning, the first thing I see is the headline: “Zehm grand jury to hear evidence police changed testimony” (by Thomas Clouse). http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/15/feds-testimony-altered/
When I first read about this incident, my initial thought was that something was fishy in the two women’s statements. I thought, and I think I’m correct, that they assumed Zehm was annoyingly happy and pesty. The cops assumed the pretty young women were being hit on and they didn’t like it and so the cops were going to “protect” these women and take care of this character. I felt that the cops had pre-assessed Zehm has a criminal to be taken down hard.
In the end - they screwed up horribly. And now we’re talking about cover up and is this a surprise to any of us???
Otto Zehm was the epitome of an innocent person, a child-like sweet individual. Would any one of us acted just exactly as he did if we were suddenly attacked by officers who we would normally have trusted? Can you imagine the incredulous fear he felt?
I am so sick of this.
Good morning, Netizens…
Photo Credit: Dr. John Olsen
Of the forty to sixty people present yesterday at the Zip Trip where Spokane Police Department killed Otto Zehm, less than a handful of those present actually knew the former janitor in life. In the four years and one day that have expired since that fateful day, despite representatives from both sides having retained legal counsel and clammed up, very little but the semantics has changed.
Some call the incident an altercation; others call it a confrontation. On the face of it, based upon the damning bit of videotape from the Zip Trip Store’s security cameras, Otto Zehm, who was armed only with a 1 liter plastic bottle of soda, never stood a chance of winning any confrontation with the Spokane Police Department that night. No, beaten to the floor into submission, and repeatedly beaten and tasered time after time on-camera and eventually choking to death on an anti-spit mask, he was apparently murdered by the very police force sworn to protect and serve him. That, too, is semantically a slip.
None of the linguistics, however, will ever change the fact that Otto Zehm died, an innocent in the face of unspeakable brutality, sloppy communication and poor administrative policies by the police.
What is the greater tragedy is that after four years and change, only a handful of Spokane citizens, for the most part strangers to Otto Zehm, showed up to remember his pitifully-short run at life. In an altruistically-perfect world, thousands of angry citizens should have showed up and clamored in one voice, demanding that this ugly affair be brought to closure, that the guilty parties in the murder of Otto Zehm be brought to trial, but that didn’t happen. The City of Spokane, that sweet-smelling unmalodorous piece of democratic justice in action, should be standing at our side demanding justice for Otto Zehm, but that has not happened either.
Liz Riley for the Peace, Justice and Action League (PJALS), for all her vast capabilities and administrative improvements, still has yet to learn that in order to hold a public demonstration, that she needs to inform the public well in advance, not just the same predictable members of PJALS.
In the Bible it states that Jesus wept. In Community Comment let history show that Dave stood and bawled his eyes out because only forty people showed up to protest the unwarranted death of an innocent man. Never forget Otto.
Good morning, Netizens…
Lest anyone forget today is the fourth anniversary of the Otto Zehm murder at the hand of the Spokane Police Department, a date that not even the Spokesman-Review’s own Doug Clark could not willfully overlook here: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/mar/18/four-years-later-lets-not-forget-otto-zehm/
PJALS has sent out the following invitation to attend a demonstration which states, in part, Don’t forget about the vigil for Otto Zehm, Thursday, March 18 at 12:00 noon in front of the Zip Trip/Cenex at N. 1712 Division (just south of the White elephant).
Due to my “real day job” and the short notice given of this public event, unfortunately I will be unable to attend this important event.
Perhaps someone can sit down and write a cogent explanation of why Otto Zehm was killed. Thus far, in my opinion, all the information we have received from Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks simply does not hold up well to public scrutiny, and the Office of the Police Ombudsman lacks the proper authority to prosecute those involved.
I have been told that John Olsen will attend this event and perhaps get some pictures which will be uploaded as quickly as they arrive.
Good afternoon, Netizens…
I’m only going to say this once because I loathe making predictions when I do not know beyond a reasonable question of a doubt whether or not what I am saying is factual and honest. However, having read the Spokesman-Review this morning, both on and offline, and having contemplated the facts such as have been presented to me, coupled with a number of very interesting phone calls to verify even more facts, I can state beyond a question of a doubt that we, the citizens of Spokane, were deliberately and maliciously lied to by various Spokane Police Department officials and officers about Otto Zehm’s murder.
I will go one step further to state that, were it not for the federal agencies investigating Otto Zehm’s death, were it not for their diligence in uncovering the facts surrounding Zehm’s death, the universal rug sweeper which has been used by the Spokane Police Department in the past to hide some of their more unsavory acts would have long ago buried the facts about Zehm’s death far below public sight.
Police Chief Kirkpatrick needs to get a rug sweeper of her own and begin cleaning the Department. There has to be an end to abuses of power and authority, and she is either part of the solution or just another part of an increasingly-large problem at the highest levels of law enforcement in the City of Spokane. I believe she has the values and morals to perform such a task, but she is going up against the Police Guild, and that could be a real nightmare for her both administratively and professionally.
Rocky Treppiedi might be from Brooklyn and purportedly an award-winning lawyer, but he just broke what I believe to be an unspoken rule: Grand Jury testimony is privileged and sacred. If you hear information or testimony in a Grand Jury hearing, regardless of who your clients are, you are forbidden from passing that information onward. (Ruling courtesy of Gonzaga Law School Library). Of course, I believe Mr. Treppiedi has been known to bend more than a few laws in the past. Why would he change now?
Even our sometimes-lackluster State or Federal Prosecutors cannot turn blind eyes once the FBI begin bringing their case to the public’s attention. Perhaps, just perhaps, there might not be any cops in the court room high-fiving one another once the criminal trial is finished on Otto Zehm’s death.
Honesty and integrity in high places in the Police Department has been one helluva long time coming. Maybe we are getting closer.
Officer ruled indigent despite $675,000 home
It’s official. We, the people, will pay through the nose for the SPD’s blundering.
I make a third of what Thompson makes and my $50,000 home is paid for. However, maybe I should go out and buy a home worth two-thirds of a million dollars and put it in my wife’s name and then offer up the excuse that I am indigent.
Indigent means “poor, needy, impoverished, poverty-stricken, penniless, destitute.” Do you really think someone who lives in a $675,000 home is destitute? Well, maybe if he didn’t make any money. It’s not my fault he bought a home way beyond his needs!
O – I know why I can’t get away with this. I don’t have a wife!
Good morning, Netizens…
I was impressed with the lengthy story in the Spokesman-Review about Karl F. Thompson, Jr.’s career in law enforcement. Several prior glowing statements notwithstanding by Chief Ann Kirkpatrick regarding his 37 years of service to law enforcement, there are few people who would contest my statement that Thompson has been a professional lawmen of incredible acumen and skill for most of his adult life. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Justice Studies and has attended the FBI Academy. If there is a poster child for the Spokane Police Department, Karl Thompson probably ranks right up near the top of the list.
Until he beat Otto Zehm senseless in the Zip Trip store and was later indicted by the Grand Jury, that is.
However, none of the allegations mean he is guilty until he receives a fair trial on the two charges he currently faces.
The convoluted trail of evidence, including the rest of the videotape from the Zip Trip store, other witnesses to the events that took place there and of course, the tearful history of the end of Otto Zehm’s life, which is what this is all about.
Or is it? Is Karl F. Thompson, Jr. the poster child of the Spokane Police Department he appears to be, or is he the unfortunate victim of flawed training programs which all Spokane Police Officers study?
I will say more about this later today, as I feel before we rush to commit judgment on Thompson, we need to understand the rationale behind his behavior.
Good morning, Netizens…
Everyone in the Spokane News Media yesterday were separately and yet together beating their spoons against the bars that, until then, had kept the news media from truly knowing what was going on in the Otto Zehm murder investigation. For nearly two years all anyone in Spokane knew for fact was that Otto Zehm died at the hands of the police, and that there were horrid pictures of Karl F. Thompson, Jr. wailing on Zehm with his nightstick while Zehm lay on the floor; meanwhile we have the squad of officers standing outside the Zip Trip in the aftermath.
Then last Friday Howard F. Delaney, City Attorney and Rocco N. Treppiedi, his Assistant, filed a response to a civil lawsuit brought against the City of Spokane by the Center for Justice, who represent Otto Zehm’s mother in a lawsuit claiming Zehm’s civil rights were violated because of the unlawful use of deadly force in apprehending him, and in the city’s subsequent actions to “falsely portray” Zehm as the aggressor in the encounter. (Portions from the Center for Justice’s website.)
Yesterday, a day that will live long past this time in Spokane history, Federal Prosecutor Jim McDevitt made public the grand jury indictment. In it two felony indictments against police officer Karl F. Thompson, Jr. were unfurled before the news media that on or about March 18, 2006, Karl F. Thompson not only beat Zehm viciously with his baton and tasering him, thus inflicting bodily injury to Zehm, and (count 2) that on March 27, 2006, Thompson then knowingly gave false testimony to investigators.
You can read the entire indictment here http://cforjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/indictment.pdf again, courtesy of the Center for Justice.
According to McDevitt’s statements at the press conference, the reference to giving false testimony refers to a lengthy interview of Thompson by an investigating Spokane Police Department detective whose name was not mentioned.
“What it looks like in hindsight,” the Center for Justice’s Breean Beggs said, when asked about it Monday, “is that the city knew this indictment was coming and did its best to get out a public relations story, trashing Otto, in the papers before readers knew about the indictment.”
As in nearly all cases of this stature, until Karl Thompson’s trial, there have been more unanswered questions to be resolved than there are hard answers. For example:
Given this was a sealed Grand Jury indictment, when were the Spokane City Attorneys told of its contents? Was it before what I believe to be the ill-fated, defamatory and false counter-suit against the Zehm family? It would seem so, given Rocco Treppiedi’s long and illuminating history of counter-suing anyone who files a claim against the City of Spokane, that seems credible enough. Do we know enough to prove it? No.
References are made to an investigator for the Spokane Police Department who interviewed Thompson which resulted in Count Two of the indictment. Of course, until Thompson’s trial, we may never know the named of this brave soul who probably sacrificed his career in the SPD in exchange for justice.
If the second count of the indictment is upheld by the court trial, yesterday why did Police Chief Ann Kirkpatrick wax euphorically about what a good cop Thompson has been for 37 years? Is she blithering daffy or simply trying to muster her troops under fire? Which is it?
If you have read the Center for Justice’s web link (above) then you know Karl F. Thompson, Jr. is facing some pretty serious jail time if convicted of the two felonies. Along the path between now and trial, it could make or break the careers of several local attorneys. There are a lot more questions than answers, but what remains to be seen is can the Spokane Police Department learn from their mistakes and restore the public’s trust?
That seems to be most of the issues that leap out at me.
Portions of this text and the picture of McDevitt all courtesy of The Center for Justice (http://cforjustice.org/) with our gracious thanks.
Good afternoon, Netizens…
Office Karl Thompson has been indicted for various charges, including making false statements in the Otto Zehm case it was announced at 3:00 PM today by US Attorney Jim McDevitt. Details to follow.
Good afternoon Netizens…
By now most of you reading this already have heard the City of Spokane asked a federal court Friday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the family of Otto Zehm over his death in police custody in March 2006, saying the developmentally disabled janitor, not police, is responsible for his own death. Does this come as a surprise to anyone?
After all, when you have the likes of Rocco Treppeidi arguing for the City of Spokane against the Zehm estate, I’m frankly astounded Treppeidi didn’t already file a lawsuit against Otto Zehm’s estate, as if there was anything to take.
Which farce would you like? We have the farce where sworn police officers referred to a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi in Otto Zehm’s hands as a “legal weapon”. Yeah, sure. Got a permit for your Pepsi?
We have the farce of the circumstances themselves, where when confronted by officers at the Zip Trip, Zehm refused their orders to stop and to drop the two-liter bottle of soda he was holding. When he refused officers’ orders, he was struck with a baton, jolted with a Taser, handcuffed and hog-tied. Oh yes, and then, the ultimate farce, when he was choked to death by a mask that did not have an airway.
This sordid affair smacks of BS, a pile of crap and it is time for the City of Spokane Police Department to admit their culpability and make amends, not file for dismissal.
Do you believe, for a minute, that Otto Zehm was responsible for his own death?