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City Council approves Zehm settlement

The Spokane City Council tonight finalized the $1.7 million settlement with the family of Otto Zehm.

The council voted unanimously to the deal, which was reached in mediation last week.

The city will pay $720,000 of the settlement. The rest will be paid by the city’s insurance carrier, AIG.

“This is one step in a healing process,” said Councilwoman Amber Waldref. “While tonight is a really important step that we’re taking, we all know it’s just one and there are many more that we need to take.”

The deal also requires the city to write a formal apology, a recommendation to name a permanent structure in a city park in honor of Zehm, crisis intervention training for all Spokane police officers who have not received it and $50,000 for a consultant to advise the city about updates to its use-of-force policy.

Zehm was beaten, shocked and hogtied in a North Spokane Zip Trip March 18, 2006 after he was erroneously accused of theft. He died two days later. The first responding officer, Karl F. Thompson Jr., was convicted by a federal jury in November of using excessive force and lying to investigators about the incident.

“It’s up to us as a council and new administration to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” said Councilman Mike Allen.


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