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Judge denies Thompson’s acquittal request

Mon., Dec. 19, 2011, 11:43 a.m.

A federal judge today again ruled that government prosecutors provided enough evidence to allow a jury to convict former Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. of using excessive force on Otto Zehm.

As he did during the four-week trial in Yakima, U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle denied a motion brought by defense attorneys who argued that federal prosecutors did not provide evidence showing that Thompson acted willfully or with a bad purpose when he beat Zehm with a baton and shocked him with a Taser.

A jury convicted Thompson on Nov. 2 of using unreasonable force and lying to investigators to cover up his actions during the confrontation on March 18, 2006, from which Zehm later died.

“I find sufficient evidence that a rational jury could find all the elements” of the excessive force charge,” Van Sickle said. “The motion is denied.”

Thompson and his attorneys, Carl Oreskovich, Steve Lamberson and Courtney Garcea, all declined comment.

Zehm’s uncle, Dale Zehm, said: “The system is still working. Everything is going as we hoped it would go.”

Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27, but Oreskovich is expected to file a motion on Friday seeking Van Sickle to agree with his request for a new trial.


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