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Park Board to consider Zehm memorial for Mission Park

The Spokane Park Board will consider a memorial for Otto Zehm on Monday, as was called for in a settlement between the city and Zehm’s estate.

Mayor David Condon has recommended that a picnic shelter or similar facility in Mission Park be dedicated to Zehm, including a plaque that would read “In Memory of Otto Zehm.”

Zehm was beaten, shocked and hog-tied by Spokane police in a north Spokane Zip Trip in 2006 after he was wrongly identified as a theft suspect. He died two days later.

The first officer to confront Zehm, Karl F. Thompson Jr., was found guilty in federal court last November of excessive force and lying to investigators.

In May, after years of denying any wrongdoing, the city of Spokane settled the lawsuit brought by Zehm’s family. Along with the memorial, the city agreed to pay $1.67 million to the Zehm family and its attorneys and formally apologize for Zehm’s death.

The lawsuit requires the police department to provide crisis-intervention training for all Spokane police officers who aren’t scheduled to retire within a year and provides $50,000 for a consultant to help the city implement changes to its use-of-force policy.

The memorial was initially envisioned for downtown, but Zehm’s mother, Ann Zehm, suggested it be placed in Mission Park instead, saying Otto enjoyed spending time there.

In a June 18 letter, Condon told the Park Board the memorial supports Ann Zehm’s “desire … to have her son remembered in a positive and compassionate way.”

The Park Board is not scheduled to vote on the memorial proposal Monday.

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