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Charges in Zehm case likely to wait

TUESDAY, AUG. 29, 2006

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker probably won’t decide whether to charge Spokane police officers involved in the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm until Anne Kirkpatrick takes over as police chief next month.

Tucker said acting Police Chief Jim Nicks wants him to wait until Kirkpatrick takes over because Nicks doesn’t want anything more to do with the investigation and would not feel comfortable attending a news conference announcing the decision.

“It might have to coincide with the new chief. That’s Sept. 11,” Tucker said. “Jim Nicks has been kind of saying, ‘Maybe you should wait.’ “

Nicks could not be reached at his office or cell phone Monday afternoon.

Tucker has other reasons to delay a decision. He continues to wait for two documents, one from Spokane County Medical Examiner Sally Aiken who was asked to review her determination of the cause of death to consider what role an oxygen non-rebreather mask may have played in Zehm’s death.

Also, Tucker hired video forensics expert Grant Fredericks to review the surveillance video that captured much of the struggle between the mentally ill janitor and seven officers inside the Zip Trip at 1712 N. Division. Fredericks’ review should have been completed last week, but Tucker said he has not heard from Fredericks.

“If we got an answer this week from the video guy, we could do it by the 11th,” Tucker said of his decision.

Tucker also said he has not spoken to Kirkpatrick to let her know the decision would await her arrival.

Tags: Otto Zehm

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