Sirens & Gavels

Police sergeant avoids prosecution

Sherry L. Prickett, of Spokane, was stopped at a red light on Farwell Road when her Ford Ranger was rear-ended by a pickup driven by Spokane police Sgt. Bradley Thoma.  (Dan Pelle)
Sherry L. Prickett, of Spokane, was stopped at a red light on Farwell Road when her Ford Ranger was rear-ended by a pickup driven by Spokane police Sgt. Bradley Thoma. (Dan Pelle)

A police sergeant was granted deferred prosecution for a drunken driving charge on Friday. Brad Thoma also had a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge (failure to remain at the scene of an accident-attended vehicle or other property) dismissed under the misdemeanor compromise statute.

He could have tried for deferred prosecution on the hit and run charge had it stuck. More than 90 percent of deferred prosecution cases are drunken driving charges, said Deputy Prosecutor Brian O'Brien. Prosecutors have little say in the procedure; they can object if someone doesn't meet the requirements but the requirements are pretty all encompassing for first-time offenders.

"We don't have an ability to really participate as advocates for or against," O'Brien said.

The judge who approved this was Douglas Robinson, a visiting judge from Whitman County.

Robinson is in Spokane County District Court once every two months or so to hear cases that are deemed to have a conflict with regular Spokane County proceedings. (For example, Robinson also handled the sentencing Friday of a man accused of harassing a city of Spokane snow plow driver.)

Robinson, who later said he didn't know Thoma was a police sergeant, praised Thoma for opting for the deferred prosecution.

Robinson called the deferred prosecution, which includes two years of intensive alcohol rehabilitation, "a wonderful opportunity."

"It's just a matter of how much dedication you want to give," Robinson said. "If you take advantage of it you will look back from now and think this is one of the best decisions you've made."

He dismissed the hit-and-run charge (the charge was not eligible to be a felony because the victim wasn't injured) after reading a letter he said was from Prickett indicating she "is not interested in seeing the case pursued. They have been fully compensated," Robinson said.

Prickett said she felt she was misled by lawyer Rob Cossey's office regarding the intent of the letter.

Read more here.




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