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Moses’ fate isn’t justice, but maybe it’s enough

Tue., April 30, 2013

There’s this old saying about how all publicity is good publicity just as long as you spell my name right.

Whoever came up with that one probably never considered what it would be like having their name associated with a headline like the one that stretched across our front page last Thursday.

“Officer to admit he lied,” it read.

No way to put a happy spin on that one.

Such, however, is the fate of Tim Moses, the veteran Spokane police officer who sold out his badge and his honor as a public servant to protect a thug fellow cop.

Moses is to be arraigned Friday in Spokane Municipal Court.

He reportedly has agreed to quit the force and admit he lied like a rug to FBI agents three years ago to help his pal Karl Thompson Jr., who was being investigated for his 2006 beating of Otto Zehm in a North Division convenience store.

For that Moses will take his lumps in the form of a gross misdemeanor.

And the feds?

They’ll come down with a case of amnesia about filing felony charges.

Count me among those who hoped for more.

Thompson, after all, was convicted in 2011 by a federal jury of two felonies: lying to investigators and using excessive force in his beat down of Zehm, an innocent citizen who had been wrongly reported as a possible thief.

Along with being clubbed and shocked by Thompson, Zehm also was hogtied and suffocated with a plastic re-breather mask that was not hooked to an oxygen source.

He died two days later – and no wonder.

With Thompson nailed I fully expected prosecutors to go after everyone involved with the same zeal and high standard for justice.

So much for that pipe dream.

Maybe the feds wanted to save the taxpayers the ungodly expense of another trial.

Maybe they just figured they got the big fish and they wanted to go out on top.

Or maybe the U.S. attorney’s office doesn’t have the same backbone that it did several years ago.

Nobody over there bothered to ask my opinion.

If they had, I would have encouraged prosecutors to go after each and every last one of the culprits and to the fullest extent of the law.

No plea bargains.

No let’s make a deal.

The attempted cover-up and prevarication that followed what happened to Zehm were egregious.

Moses is among those who are responsible for much of the distrust and lack of faith that many Spokane residents still have for the SPD.

I wish I had Jeffry Finer’s composure on this.

Finer represented the Zehm family in a case against the city. He is a fine and gracious man and, apparently, an expert at finding that so-called silver lining that everybody talks about.

Any admission of lying is a significant thing for a police officer, Finer said in a news account.

“It will follow him and it will eliminate his ability to take the stand because he can be impeached for having a conviction involving dishonesty.”

I hope he’s right. On the other hand, maybe that old saying about publicity is right after all.

Being an established liar these days seems an ideal background for talk radio or politics.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at


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