Opinions have been expressed in our local print and television media as to the conduct of Spokane Police Department officers present at the recent court custody hearing for Officer Karl Thompson Jr. Many expressed outrage as to the conduct of off-duty SPD officers by standing and saluting a convicted felon.
I’d like to clarify some public assumptions. I was in attendance the day of the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge exited the hearing. Ten minutes after the close of the hearing, as bailiffs escorted Thompson out of the courtroom, many present stood. Seconds later someone called “present arms.” Many, standing, saluted as Thompson was led out.
This action was not in disrespect to the Zehm family, the court, or the legal system. It was done as a show of respect for an individual who has given 40-plus years of dedicated service to his country, community, and the agency for which he worked.
I’m not a member of SPD, as were others who stood. I’ve known Thompson for better than 30 years, both personally and professionally. His character and integrity have remained positive and intact throughout this entire tragedy.