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Doug Clark: Justice for Zehm may finally come today

The sentencing of Karl Thompson Jr. will supposedly take place in a Spokane federal courtroom this morning, proving I had it all wrong.

Apparently, there is a limit on how much justice-avoiding hocus-pocus a gang of defense shysters can get away with when the public is stuck signing the checks.

Or is there?

I keep getting this nervous twitch that won’t go away.

Expect another defense loco-motion, says the twitch.

Something – anything – to keep Thompson from having to account for the violence he unleashed as a Spokane police officer upon a luckless citizen named Otto Zehm.

You know, like maybe the Yakima courtroom where Thompson was convicted last fall was too chilly for the rendering of a proper verdict.

Or was it too humid?

Nothing would surprise me at this point.

After all, six and a half years have crawled by since Thompson charged into that North Division quickie mart and conducted his symphony of mayhem on Zehm, who expired two days later.

Zehm had been “wrongly” reported as a possible ATM thief, something Thompson couldn’t possibly have known.

But the store’s security tapes told the sickening story.

This so-called veteran and decorated officer used his club and his stun gun like a brute.

Federal jurors saw it that way, too, catching the arrogant defense as off guard as it gets.

Guilty for excessive force.

Guilty for lying to investigators.

And so now we face the final mystery.

What is Fred Van Sickle made of?

Does the U.S. District Court judge have the guts to give Thompson the sentence he deserves?

Or should we brace for a travesty?

Ever the optimists, bless their hearts, federal prosecutors want Thompson to face even more prison time than the 27 to 33 months cited in a presentence report.

The Scheme Team, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, would like to see Thompson skate with time served.

Besides making me bilious, I can think of only one other problem with that sweet deal.

Honestly. Shouldn’t a convicted felon have to at least serve some time before getting away with time served?

Any other mugger would have awaited sentence from inside a cell. Not Thompson. Thanks to Van Sickle he’s spent a year free as a breeze.

Justice is blind, my ass.

So what’ll it be, judge?

Call me naïve. But if Thompson opened a fortune cookie, I think it would read …

“You will soon be making new pen pals.”

The man was convicted on two counts, mind you.

And one of those counts bears the stench of cover-up, a crime that never rests easy with federal judges.

Here’s one thing you can bet on: The sentencing of this fallen cop will ooze more drama than a Broadway reprise of “Our Town.”

Why, it really was all Otto’s fault, Scheme Teamers will argue.

Yeah, if Otto had more respect for the law he would have stopped writhing around so much while Thompson was smacking him.

That’s the ticket.

Plus, I can’t wait for the part where they start quoting from the syrupy letters that attest to Thompson’s stellar temperament and character.

I’ve never seen a felon who wasn’t a saint come sentencing time.

Take one letter that is already in the hands of the court.

“Karl Thompson is one of the Good Guys!” it states.

I can’t disagree.

Karl Thompson Jr. was one of the good guys. Right up to the moment when he beat another good guy into mush.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 ordougc@ spokesman. com.


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