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Trial in Zehm death postponed to next year

The federal trial of Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. has a new date: March 7.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle on Monday reset the trial to next year after federal prosecutors objected to his ruling barring any evidence showing Otto Zehm had not committed a crime on March 18, 2006, which was the night Thompson struck him repeatedly with a police baton, shocked him with a Taser and several other officers helped hogtie him for about 17 minutes before Zehm stopped breathing.

The mentally ill janitor never regained consciousness and died two days later. Thompson faces the felony charges of using excessive force and lying to investigators about the confrontation with Zehm, who was 36.

The trial was set to begin on June 7 but Victor Boutros, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, said prosecutors wanted to appeal Van Sickle’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Van Sickle postponed the trial.

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