An attorney representing the estate of Otto Zehm, the mentally disabled janitor who died last year after he was Tasered, beaten and bound by Spokane police officers, has filed a claim against the city for using excessive force and violating Zehm’s civil rights.
The claim filed this week seeks $2.9 million in damages.
The FBI is still investigating the fatal confrontation.
In a letter addressed to Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi, attorney Jeffry Finer said the claim is justified because the Spokane Police Department violated its own policies by restraining Zehm for 13 minutes on his stomach and putting a plastic mask over his nose and mouth without connecting it to an oxygen supply during the struggle at a North Side convenience store.
Three minutes later, Zehm stopped breathing. He never regained consciousness after the March 18, 2006, encounter and died two days later.
Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks said at the time that his officers acted appropriately.
The city attorney’s office plans to study the claim and respond within the required 60 days, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said late Tuesday.
Car fire in resort garage quickly extinguished
A car fire in the Coeur d’Alene Resort parking garage Tuesday evening sent up a smoke cloud visible throughout town and crowded the busy downtown area with emergency vehicles.
Eight emergency vehicles responded to the blaze, which occurred on the fourth floor of the parking garage about 6:30 p.m.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, said Coeur d’Alene Fire Chief Kenny Gabriel.
“It took us longer to get up there than it did to put it out,” Gabriel said. “We were very lucky it was nothing more.”
The large amount of smoke invoked the heavy response, he said.
“When we could see smoke like that from all over town, it makes us nervous,” he said.
Level 3 sex offender moves downtown
A level 3 sex offender has moved into downtown Spokane.
Tomas Irwin, 19, is described as 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes, said Spokane police spokeswoman Jody Goldman.
Irwin was recently released after serving two years for first-degree child rape, Goldman said.
The victim was an 8-year-old boy.
Irwin’s numerous other young victims were girls between the ages of 1 and 13, Goldman said. He will be on probation for two years.