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Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson leaves the William O. Douglas Federal Courthouse in Yakima today after a jury convicted him of two felonies related to the death of Otto Zehm. (SRPhoto/Christopher Anderson)
Breean Beggs, attorney for Otto Zehm's family, said Zehm's mother, Ann, is relieved 'that it's over, and, in her words, the court and legal system saw through what really happened.”
“Otto had a huge impact on the people around him, and they wanted to make sure he's not forgotten, and he is not,” Beggs said. He said Ann Zehm, whose cousin observed the trial for her, ate a piece of birthday cake for Otto on Monday, which would have been his 42nd birthday.
Zehm's family is not concerned with Karl Thompson's punishment, Beggs said.
“I spoke with Ann today and she said she needed a day to get her thoughts together of what she really thought, but all along she has not spoken as far as punishment really jut about accountability and change,” Beggs said.
“This started out, unfortunately as kind of a regular case because people with mental illness die often in Spokane when they interact with law enforcement, but it's turned into…because he was innocent and there was a video…a symbol for what could be changed and what could be better,” Beggs said.
Beggs said Zehm “was just an upstanding person” who was not as vulnerable to the typical character attacks police use to justify “these types of deaths.”
“We continue to call to the city and the department to repudiate any type of policy that would result in this type of death, and when they do so the community can heal.”
Beggs said he expects negotiations in the civil suit to move forward.
He said he was not surprised jurors convicted Thompson.
“I woke up this morning and i had a sense that this was going to happen,” Beggs said.