The attorney for Karl F. Thompson Jr. asked a federal judge Friday to give the decorated former Spokane police officer a “just” sentence that includes no imprisonment.
A week after federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle to sentence the former officer to 10 years for using excessive force and lying to investigators, defense attorney Carl Oreskovich filed a 22-page brief detailing why he thinks Thompson should get leniency.
“Defendant Thompson is a man of truly outstanding character whose convictions are an aberration when compared to a lifetime of earnest dedication to law enforcement,” Oreskovich wrote. “He has suffered the loss of his lifetime career and constant public humiliation.
“Therefore, Defendant Thompson respectfully asks this Court to fairly impose a just and reasonable sentence … including the alternative of no imprisonment.”
Van Sickle has scheduled Thompson’s sentencing for Nov. 15, which is more than a year after a jury in Yakima convicted him of using excessive force and lying to investigators about his 2006 confrontation with Otto Zehm, a mentally ill and disabled janitor mistakenly implicated in a possible theft. Zehm died two days after being beaten, shocked with Tasers and hogtied.
Thompson faces a standard range of 27 to 33 months in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin filed documents last week, however, taking issue with the pre-sentence report that led to that sentencing range.
Durkin said in court records that the probation officer who completed the pre-sentence report only talked to witnesses provided by the defense, “all of whom provided information favorable to” Thompson.
Oreskovich barely mentioned the pre-sentence report, other than to argue that Thompson should be given credit for taking responsibility for his crimes. Mostly, Oreskovich focused on Thompson’s career, which included earning medals while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and 28 distinguished years in law enforcement prior to the confrontation with Zehm six years ago.
Oreskovich said his client has suffered “daily punishment” because of intense media coverage of the incident and the subsequent criminal investigation, trial and legal argument seeking to undo the conviction.
“More so than any other criminal defendant in the area over the last decade, Defendant Thompson has often been villainized … in news reports and columns,” Oreskovich wrote. “Additionally, Defendant Thompson has been made the poster-child for all things allegedly wrong with the Spokane City government and is often referred to in reference to a corrupt police department, City Attorney’s Office and/or Mayor’s Office.
“The great irony of this case is that Defendant Thompson is a person many of his peers looked to as the pillar for leadership and honor in law enforcement.”