Arrow-right Camera

Sirens & Gavels

Judge in Zehm warns against outbursts

On the heels of a Spokane police officer yelling "PRESENT ARMS" as law enforcement Karl Thompson left court with U.S. Marshals Friday, a federal judge warned that such outbursts won't be tolerated.

"At best, such conduct will cause exclusion from the courtroom, not to return. At worst, we'll be talking about contempt of court," said U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle before hearing a motion by Thompson's lawyer to get him out of jail pending sentencing.

Van Sickle is deciding now whether to release Thompson from custody. Thompson, now a convicted felon, spent the weekend at the Bonner County Jail and is wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit in court. He's entered and exited in handcuffs. Track the hearing here. A decision is expected shortly.

Van Sickle said he knows "there's a lot of hard feelings and strong feelings about (the Thompson case) way or the other" but emphasized d that such demonstration are not allowed in U.S. District Court.

Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner apologized for the salute on Friday. Later that day, Major Craig Meidl, who attended Friday's hearing, said on the "We Support Karl Thompson" Facebook page that the officer who yelled "Present arms" "was mortified to learn that members of the Zehm family were still in the courtroom."

 "The show of respect was not about the incident involving Mr Zehm. The show of respect was for the officer that we all knew and were friends with. It was for the officer that was highly respected and looked up to by so many officers," Meidl wrote. "The officers on our department are hurting. We hear all the bad things being said about us and each one causes a little more bleeding. We are trying to heal. We want to heal. We want to do the best we can for our community because it’s the right thing to do. We would never do anything intentionally to hurt this community or members of this community and I am saddened that there are people that feel that way. "

Read Meidl's full post here and here.

Jeffry Finer, lawyer for Zehm's family, said on Friday that he is saddened to think that the officers who cried for Thompson Friday likely have not cried for Zehm.

Past coverage:

Nov. 4: Thompson supporters express outrage

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Sirens & Gavels

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.