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Posts tagged: Otto Zehm

Clark: Otto Zehm Finally Gets Justice

It’s a good day, Spokane. There’s no snow in the potholes, the river’s still running and Karl Thompson Jr. is already ensconced in a federal lockup on the other side of the state. Sorry, but you won’t find me joining the gripers and grousers who are sore about the ex-cop getting just 51 months for his unwarranted and vicious attack on Otto Zehm six-plus years ago. I’ve been beating this drum too long for that. I remember too well the lonely days when our do-nothing county prosecutor, Steve Tucker, refused to touch this case as if it were radioactive. I remember, too, that the city’s official and shameful position was that Thompson did nothing wrong and that Zehm was to blame. I was just some kook columnist ranting in the paper about a lost cause and giving away 5,000 Otto buttons to keep people from forgetting. Oh, boy, do I remember/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Thoughts?

Thompson Gets 4 Years, 3 Months

Originally posted 5:08 p.m. Thursday

Updated: After being handed a sentence Thursday of more than four years in federal prison – the culmination of six years of investigations, legal action and community soul-searching – former Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. walked away passively in handcuffs. U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle admonished the courtroom in advance that demonstrations of any kind would be inappropriate, and the sentence was greeted with silence by both Thompson and Zehm supporters. Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich lost a last-minute plea to keep the decorated officer out of jail pending appeal of his convictions for using excessive force and lying to investigators to cover up his actions/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Was justice served?

Judge Denies New Trial For Thompson

A federal judge has denied the motion for a new trial for convicted former Spokane Police officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. (pictured). Thompson’s lawyer Carl Oreskovich argued on Aug. 31 that Thompson should receive a new trial because federal prosecutors hid information from the defense that could have won his acquittal. Thompson was convicted by a federal jury in Yakima in November of using excessive force and lying to investigators in the violent 2006 confrontation with Otto Zehm, a mentally ill janitor mistakenly identified as a possible thief. Zehm died two days after being beaten, tasered and hog-tied by police in a Spokane convenience store/SR. Developing. (SR file photo)

Question: Anyone remember when Thompson was a captain under former sheriff Pierce Clegg?

DC: Justice For Otto Zehm At Hand

Four or five other customers were ahead of me when I sauntered into the convenience store on Sunday’s sunny afternoon. No worries. Despite the Zip Trip name on the signage, I hadn’t come here on a speed run. After scanning the aisles a moment, I grabbed what I had come for. Then I took my place at the end of the checkout line with goods in tow: One 2-liter plastic bottle of Diet Pepsi. Check. One Snickers candy bar. Check. Hardly the breakfast of champions. But it seemed like the right way to mark the sixth anniversary of Otto Zehm’s final and ultimately fatal visit to this small Spokane trading post at 1712 N. Division. March 18, 2006. Never forget/Doug Clark, SR. More here. (SR photo: Snickers candy bars, flowers and 2-liter bottles of Pepsi Cola were left curbside in November in front of the Zip Trip on Division Street at Augusta Avenue)

Question: How closely have you followed the Otto Zehm story?

DC: Thompson’s Hail Mary Defense

And now for the latest in legalized leg pulling. Ex-Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson Jr. has “accepted responsibility” for pounding Otto Zehm to pulp in 2006 and lying to investigators afterward to cover his slimy hide. Or so the Thompson shysters claim. Gee, Karl. Too bad you didn’t have this “come to Jesus” moment a few years back. Could’ve saved the public all the expense and bother of holding a federal trial. You know, the one in Yakima last fall that found you GUILTY as hell. This is just another Hail Mary ploy by the defense, of course. The goal this time is to get Thompson a discount on the already woefully thin amount of prison time he has coming/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: You be the judge. What would you do with this latest attempt by Karl Thompson's defense team to win a new trial in the fatal beating of Otto Zehm?

Thompson Seeks Sentence Reduction

A federal prosecutor is objecting to a request by convicted former Spokane Police officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to reduce his potential prison sentence because he claims to have taken responsibility for using excessive force on Otto Zehm and lying to cover it up. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin has responded to an earlier request filed by defense attorney Carl Oreskovich to reduce Thompson’s sentencing guidelines, which currently call for him to serve between 27 and 33 months in federal prison. Oreskovich has argued that the decorated former officer has accepted responsibility for the crimes/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Do you think that former Kootenai County sheriff's captain Karl Thompson took responsibility for his actions in Otto Zehm's death?

Vestal: A New View Of Karl Thompson

Karl Thompson looked like a whole new man. When he walked into the federal courtroom Monday, he wore yellow jailhouse garb – the blousy top a shade darker than the loose pants. Big black letters on the back read: BONNER COUNTY. On his bare feet were cheap plastic sandals. Gray scruff stood out on his chin, and his usually neat white hair was very slightly disheveled. His hands – the hands that had placed countless criminal suspects into cuffs over his career as a cop – were locked behind his back. He looked smaller, sadder, diminished. “I wasn’t prepared for that,” said one of his supporters. Neither was I. Nor was I prepared to look at Thompson and feel what I felt: sympathy. It’s a sympathy tempered by anger at what he did to Otto Zehm and the city’s long string of mistakes in the case/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (SR file photo by Colin Mulvany)

Question: Do you have sympathy for 64YO Karl Thompson and what he's facing — 6-10 years in prison for his actions in the death of Otto Zehm?

Thompson Free Until Sentencing

A judge ruled late Monday to release convicted Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. and could rule as early as this morning whether to bring in jurors for questioning after a defense attorney raised allegations of juror misconduct. U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle reversed a Friday decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hutton, who ordered Thompson detained until sentencing, which has been set for Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. In ruling for Thompson, Van Sickle went against a prior ruling made against officers convicted in the 1992 beating of Rodney King that they were not above the law that requires they remain in jail prior to sentencing except in “exceptional” cases/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Do you agree with the judge's decision to release Thompson until his sentencing Jan. 27?

Zehm Verdict Shocks Alternate Juror?

Snickers candy bars, flowers and 2 liter bottles of Pepsi Cola are left curb-side Friday in front of the Zip Trip, on Division at Augusta, where Otto Zehm was beaten unconscious by Spokane police officers, in March 2006, who thought Zehm was a robbery suspect.  Zehm died 2 days later.  (SR photo: Dan Pelle)

This afternoon, Karl Thompson's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, filed an emergency motion to get Thompson out of jail. He also filed a motion asking that he be allowed to contact jurors because of what he said was “an unsolicited email received by defense counsel from one of the alternate jurors.” “The alternate juror’s email expressed “shock” at the verdict and stated that (the alternate juror) did not have the same opinion regarding the verdict,” Oreskovich wrote. Oreskovich is asking that he be able to ask jurors about potential infuences on their verdict. He included a declaration by his paralegal, Jodi Dineen, stating she'd seen at least two jurors exposed to a ticker on Northwest Cable News TV that mentioned of the “beating death of a mentally ill janitor” on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 during breakfast at the hotel in Yakima. (Why she didn't tell the court at the time is unclear)/Meghann Cuniff, SR. More here.

Question: Do you think Thompson's lawyer will get a new trial for him?

Spokane Cops Salute Karl Thompson

Some four dozen Spokane Police officers and other supporters stood when someone yelled “Present Arms” and saluted Thompson as he was led away by U.S. Marshals without being handcuffed. As the crowd saluted in unison, attorney Jeffry Finer turned and apologized to the family of Otto Zehm, who died after a violent confrontation with Thompson and other officers in a North Spokane convenience store in 2006. Finer is representing Zehm’s family in a companion civil suit. Thomas Clouse story here.

Question: What do you make of this show of support from Spokane officers as Karl Thompson was being led away?

Karl Thompson Taken Into Custody

A federal judge in Yakima ordered Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. taken into custody this morning following his conviction on charges of using excessive force and lying to investigators. Some three dozen Spokane Police officers and other supporters stood when someone yeled “Present Arms” and saluted Thompson as he was led away, without being handcuffed, after being convicted of using excessive force on Otto Zehm and later lying to cover up his actions. As the crowd saluted in unison, Jeffry Finer turned and apologized to Zehm’s family, whom Finer is representing in a companion civil suit. “The salute was meant to be respectful,” Finer said. “But it seemed to be given with no thought of the victim’s family seated inches away”/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here. (Dan Pelle SR file photo — of Karl Thompson)

Question: Should Karl Thompson have been taken into custody so soon after the verdict?

AM: Karl Thompson Found Guilty 2X

Spokane police officer Karl Thompson, right, waits to cross the street after leaving the William O. Douglas Federal Courthouse in Yakima, Wash. Wednesday. A federal court jury on Wednesday convicted Thompson of using excessive force on a mentally ill man who died in 2006 after being struck and Tasered at a convenience store. Story here. (AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Christopher Anderson)

Clark: Jury Nailed Thompson Verdict

It takes a lot to get to a guy like me. Many journalists hide behind a shield of cynicism, and I’ve had 37 years of practice. But I’ll admit it. I choked up Wednesday afternoon when my Mom called to relay the bombshell she’d just heard on TV. The jurors I had watched so intently the other day during my visit to a Yakima federal courtroom had delivered a courageous verdict. They convicted Karl Thompson, the Spokane thug cop who beat Otto Zehm like a dog five years ago in a North Division convenience store. They found Thompson guilty for all those cruel, unwarranted baton strikes and Taser shocks that robbed the mentally ill man of his dignity and ultimately his life. And guilty for all the lies Thompson told afterward to cover his sorry ass/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Were you surprised by the guilty verdicts in the Karl Thompson case?

Thompson Guilty On Both Counts

A jury has convicted Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. of needlessly beating Otto Zehm and then lying about it to cover up his actions. The verdict comes five years and seven months since Zehm’s life ended and growing questions of police accountability began. Prosecutors are expected to seek a prison term of six to eight years, arguing that Thompson was in a position of trust and that Zehm, who was schizophrenic, was particularly vulnerable. … Despite the criminal conviction, Thompson, 64, was allowed to remain free pending a follow up hearing before a magistrate in Spokane to argue continued release conditions. He posted a $50,000 signature bond following the criminal indictment in 2009/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Reaction to verdict?

Clark: Venue Change Slaps Spokane

The verdict is in. Anyone desiring to watch the upcoming federal trial of Karl Thompson Jr. – the Spokane cop whose deadly encounter with Otto Zehm earned him an excessive force charge – must fill up the tank and travel 200 miles to Yakima. Apparently we wags of the local media are to blame for potentially tainting the jury pool with our blather. Yakima? I can’t recall the last time I was in Yakima, but I think it had something to do with mad cow disease. There’s no use whining. U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle has made up his mind, sort of.  The judge, according to our news account, conceded he wasn’t convinced that Zehm-related coverage by local media created “actual” or “perceived” bias against Thompson. Not about to be swayed by the soundness of his logic, however, the judge moved the trial anyway/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Come to think of it, I've never been to Yakima, Wash. Have you? Good experience?

Expert says Zehm’s death caused by officers

A medical expert hired by the Spokane police officer facing criminal charges over the fatal Otto Zehm confrontation is blaming other officers at the scene for causing the unarmed janitor’s death.

Court documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court indicate Dr. Daniel Davis is prepared to testify in Officer Karl Thompson’s excessive force trial that the asphyxiation that killed Zehm was caused by officers pressing down on him while he was hogtied on the floor of a Zip Trip convenience store. Thomas Clouse, SR  More here.

Will there ever be justice for Otto Zehm?

Otto Zehm Cop Trial Delayed 2 Months

The federal trial of Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. (a former Kootenai County sheriff’s captain) in the Otto Zehm case will be postponed at least two months as as prosecutors appeal a judge’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle this morning ordered that the government could not offer evidence that Zehm had not committed a crime the night of his March 2006 confrontation with police at the North Division Zip Trip/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Public To Pay Zehm Cop Defense

Spokane Police officer Karl Thompson (with silver hair) talks friends and supporters outside the Federal Courthouse in Spokane where he appeared today to answer charges in the Otto Zehm case. (Jesse Tinsley/SR)

But during the short arraignment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin objected to the defense request to appoint Oreskovich as Thompson’s attorney, noting that Thompson makes about $80,000 a year – counting overtime – and owns a $675,000 home, which is listed in his wife’s name, in Hayden. But Imbrogno said she carefully studied the private documents submitted by Thompson’s attorneys and ruled that he is indigent, freeing the way for public funds to pay for his defense. “I am very satisfied that Mr. Thompson qualifies for court-appointed counsel,” Imbrogno said/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Do you think the public should pay for Spokane officer Karl Thompson’s defense when he earns around $80,000 per year and has a $675K home?

Officer Indicted In Otto Zehm Death

Item: SPD officer indicted in Otto Zehm death/Thomas Clouse, SR

More Info: A federal grand jury has indicted the first officer who responded to a confrontation with mentally ill janitor Otto Zehm, which resulted in Zehm’s death and sparked a cry for citizen police oversight. U.S. Attorney James McDevitt announced that the grand jury has indicted veteran Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson, who was the first of seven officers to confront Zehm, a 36-year-old janitor who had schizophrenia. Zehm died two days after he was beaten with a baton, shocked multiple times with a Taser and hogtied inside the Zip Trip at 1712 N. Division St.

Question: In the comments section, HMOffsuite posts and link to this story and comments: “It looks like Otto Zehm may receive the justice that he deserves.” Do you agree with that assessment?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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