Arrow-right Camera


Doug Clark: Breathalyzer Brad offers wobbly defense

Another season of peace, love and excruciatingly inconvenient gift-return lines has passed, and it’s time for me to get back to vivisecting the bah-humbug realities of life.

And nothing curdles the nog like the latest antics of Spokane’s poster boy for brad driving.

Bradley J. Thoma, that is.

Wait a second. I take that back.

The grimmest news of the past few days, of course, was about the Nigerian terrorist who attempted to down a jetliner by unsuccessfully exploding a bomb sewn to his underpants.

You know what this means.

Remember back when they caught that idiot failed shoe bomber?

Airport security czars started making us remove our shoes before allowing us the privilege of wedging ourselves into too-small seats and breathing stale, flu virus-infused airplane air.

It doesn’t take Kreskin to predict that the flying public will soon be dropping trou more often than Bill Clinton during his entire presidency.

I don’t know about you. But I’m definitely upgrading my boxers before I ever fly the unfriendly skies again.

But getting back to Thoma …

He’s that boozed-up, off-duty Spokane cop who crunched into the back end of a woman’s Ford Ranger last September. Then he ran off like a cowardly mutt who’d just pootied on the carpet.

Anyway, Thoma worked out a deal to avoid prosecution so long as he can go five years without drunkenly rear-ending another truck-driving citizen.

(Currently, the Vegas odds of this happening are 8 to 5.)

Despite the legal shenanigans, however, Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired Thoma last week.

She decided that Thoma was unable to work, because, under his court deal, he can’t turn on a car without breathing into a computerized device to measure his gimlet level.

Bradley should have known better.

Besotted, hit-and-run driving is the sort of behavior we expect from elected officials, not our sworn police officers.

But this was not the end of the Thoma soap opera.

He now wants us taxpayers to reward him with $4 million. Why? Because the city didn’t consider his alcohol disability when it fired him, that’s why.

And I thought I’d heard every load of legal hooey.

You know, like the Twinkie defense, and the caffeine defense, and the bloody glove doesn’t fit defense …

Now comes the “You can’t fire me. I’m handi-shellacked” defense.

There are plenty of good cops in Spokane. I’m hoping that when they heard about Thoma’s alcohol disability lawsuit, their response was …

“Thoma? Nope. Never heard of him.”

I knew some guys back in college who were alcohol disabled and couldn’t study. The unsympathetic professors flunked them anyway.

But maybe I’m out of step with our more sensitive world. Maybe nobody cares if an officer of the law can’t start a prowl car without blowing into a breathalyzer.

Hey, I know. Instead of one of those blue handicapped parking passes, Thoma could hang his own special symbol over the rearview mirror.

An empty green Heineken bottle, say.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

There are two comments on this story »