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Behavior expert testifies in Zehm case

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An expert on human behavior and reaction time testified today that Otto Zehm had no opportunity to see Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson until he was about 10 to 12 feet away.

By then, Thompson had already pulled his baton, said Dr. Richard Gill. “His speed was 7.5 feet per second. Three times the speed that Zehm was traveling at,” Gill said.

Gill went through surveillance of the video frame by frame for jurors in the trial's fourth day of testimony.

He said Zehm entered the store at a casual pace of 2.5 feet per second - the average walking speed is 3.5 feet - and has his back toward Thompson as he approaches the aisle, where he grabbed a 2-liter plastic bottle of diet Pepsi.

“Watch his hair and his head and you'll see at no point is he looking back at the direction Thompson is coming,” Gill said.

Gill said Zehm “maintained a slow, calm walking speed” inside and outside store, bypassed two exits once inside and didn't attract attention when he entered like Thompson (pictured right) did.

Gill said the video disputes Thompson's statement that Zehm approached him.

Once Zehm sees Thompson, “Thompson is continuing to move forward. Zehm is continuing to move backward,” Gill said.

Thompson said he ordered Zehm to drop it after stopping and making eye contact. But Gill says video shows Thompson continuously moving.

“Notice Thompson never stops moving,” Gill said. “…There's never a time that he stops.”

Gill said the first baton strike was delivered after about 2.4 seconds.

“In my opinion there is not sufficient time for that verbal exchange to occur,” Gill said.

Gill told jurors he believes Thompson's hand somewhere within a specific video frame not because he definitely sees it, but because of how the hand is positioned in the frames before and after.

Defense lawyers have said that it was really a car headlight, but Gill said he considered the passing headlight when analyzing the video.

In cross examination, Carl Oreskovich (pictured left in a file photo) emphasized that the video doesn't show Officer Steve Braun's deployment of a Taser. Gill said Thompson was “very clearly” seen using a Taser.

“What we don't see is what Otto Zehm is doing, correct?” Oreskovich said.

“The only thing that we can conclude from that is Mr. Otto Zehm is not standing up with his head over the shelving,” Oreskovich said. “You don't know whether he's in crouch manner under the shelves.”

Gill acknowledged so.

Oreskovich replayed video frames of Zehm walking in to try to show jurors that Zehm could have seen Thompson coming. Oreskovich also said the video shows Zehm's feet moving and Thompson moving away, but

Gill said Thompson didn't appear to be moving back because of a kick.

Gill said Zehm's fists can be seen in the air in two frames.

Oreskovich: “What we see is a free left fist no longer being held by Officer Thompson.”

Gill: “That is correct.

Jurors told to disregard ‘robbery’ reference

Jurors in the federal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson were instructed this morning to disregard any reference to Otto Zehm as a “robbery suspect.”

The move by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle came after prosecutors argued the door had opened for them to tell jurors that Zehm was innocent of the theft that brought Thompson to the fatal confrontation at a Zip Trip in Spokane on March 18, 2006, because store clerk Leroy Colvin had referred to Zehm as a robbery suspect.

Van Sickle also barred defense lawyers from asking any non-expert witnesses about a possible robbery.

The issue of whether jurors can know of Zehm's innocence was hotly debated in pre-trial motions that delayed the trial last year as federal prosecutors appealed to the 9th Circuit Van Sickle's ruling barring any mention of it.

The 9th Circuit sided with Van Sickle, who later rejected an attempt by prosecutors to split the trial to allow mention of Zehm's innocence when arguing that Thompson lied to investigators.

Check here for minute-by-minute updates from the trial.

Expert: Thompson used excessive force

YAKIMA - Had the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm been a mock scenario used in training, Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. would have flunked, a use-of-force expert testified on Monday.

Robert Bragg, who directs use-of-force training for all police recruits at Washington’s police academy, said Thompson violated his training and had no reason to immediately begin striking Otto Zehm with a baton on March 18, 2006.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Lots of Spokane Police Department employees are expected to testify at the trial today.

While Clouse is staffing in Yakima, I will be in court here in Spokane starting at 9 a.m. using my Twitter account to follow the live feed of the trial. Check out my page here for minute-by-minute play-by-play from the courtroom.

Police use ‘505’ to support Thompson

As the excessive force trial of Officer Karl Thompson enters its second week, many Spokane police officers have made his badge number their personal Facebook profile pictures as a show of support.

Thompson is a mentor to many in the department and was drafted to run for police chief before Anne Kirkpatrick was appointed in 2006.

His indictment on federal charges of lying to investigators and violating Otto Zehm's civil rights during the 2006 confrontation that led to Zehm's death has drawn the ire of many in the department, who have joined a Facebook group that says Thompson is “a media scapegoat, wrongly accused, and wrongly charged.”

Several Spokane police employees are expected to be called as witnesses for the prosecution, including use-of-force expert Rob Boothe, who is a member of the support group.

The long-anticipated trial, coupled with pending leadership changes, prompted police to address the expected tough times in the recent department newsletter.

Past coverage:

Oct. 15: Eye witnesses dispute Thompson's account of Zehm encounter

Oct. 13: Officer Moses may plead 5th in Thompson trial

Oct. 13: Oreskovich calls Thompson prosecution 'vicious'

Teen describes Zehm/Thompson encounter

Spokane resident Britni Brashers was 13 in March 2006 when she and her younger sister went to a Spokane convenience stores to buy a few things. She ended up being a witness to one of most controversial police encounters in city history.

“He walked in and stared looking at the items like any other person,” Brashers told jurors of Otto Zehm, who lost consciousness at the store during an encounter with police officer Karl Thompson. He died two days later.
Thompson arrived soon after Zehm, moving “very quickly, very frantically,” Brashers said.

“He just approached him without saying anything and just swung back and hit him,” Brashers said.

Zehm, she said, “was just screaming in agony…just moaning and groaning in pain.”

Brashers saw him holding pop bottle on ground while he was laying with stomach down but said she never saw him threaten police with it. Nor did Zehm ever take a “boxing stance” or get off the ground after the first Taser shock, Brashers told jurors.

Defense lawyer Stephen Lamberson used a mini replica of the Zip Trip store to imply that Brashers had a limited view of the encounter.

He asked Brashers why other witnesses reported hearing verbal commands when she said she heard none.

“It kind of surprises me,” Brashers said of the other witness claims. “Because i didn't hear anything and I was paying good attention to it.”

Lamberson asked: “But you don't know where those baton strikes landed?” to which Brashers responded: “I know it was in the upper body

Lamberson emphasized that the sounds Brashers heard Zehm make may have been out of anger and resistance, not pain. He said Brashers statements changed to emphasize the pain aspect of the sound once she talked to the FBI, and that she first told investigators that Zehm was “fighting” with police.

Brashers said she was never told what to say by federal investigators - only that she should tell the truth.

After the encounter, Brashers appeared on a local TV news station after hearing police claim that Zehm had lunged at police.

“When I watched the news that night it was different from what I saw, so I had my mom call and I told them that wasn't what I'd seen,” Brashers said.

Jurors hear Thompson’s interview w/ SPD

After the encounter that led to Otto Zehm's death, Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson told an investigator he didn't feel deadly force was needed against the suspect.

In a recorded interview with now-retired Spokane police Detective Terry Ferguson that was played for jurors today, Thompson said his first intent to was strike Zehm in the leg his baton “to be able to buckle his leg and put him on the ground.”

“I had deadly force available but i did not perceive this as a deadly threat,” Thompson said, adding that he wanted to continue issuing verbal commands.

But, as prosecutors have told jurors, Thompson repeatedly struck Zehm in the head with a baton, which is considered deadly force.

The recording outlines what prosecutors have said was nothing but a lie from Thompson — that Zehm lunged at him and fought with him using a plastic soda bottle.

In the interview with Ferguson, Thompson, who is now on trial in Yakima for allegedly violating Zehm's civil rights and lying to investigators, said Zehm posed a physical threat.

“His whole body suggested that it was tense and prepared to respond either by pushing, throwing or charging me,” Thompson said.

Thompson said Zehm was  screaming and groaning like someone with “a high level of commitment to resisting or attacking.”

He said Zehm took a “boxing stance” and threw punches, so Thompson hit anywhere he could with the baton, except the head. Thompson claimed Zehm stood up after being shocked with a Taser, which surveillance video disputes.

“He's standing there boxing with both fists, throwing punches,” Thompson said.

Ferguson asks: “Did he hit you?”

“Yes. He hit me,” Thompson responds.

Thompson said he was finally able to use his radio and knew Spokane police Officer Steve Braun was close by. But Zehm was still kicking, Thompson said. So when Braun arrived  “I told him, 'use your baton. Start hitting him.'”

Braun shocked Zehm with a Taser, but it had no effect, so Thompson directed his fellow officer to deploy the Taser on Zehm's neck.

Thompson looked around the store for his baton before realizing it was on his holster, he said in the recording. He said Zehm was still “resisting extremely forcefully” as police responded. Soon, he heard an officer say, “He's not breathing.”

Thompson again told Ferguson that he had no reason to shoot Zehm.

 “Had he tried to get my gun that clearly would have been a a deadly force issue to me…but he did not,” Thompson said. Thompson said it was important to detain Zehm for questioning.

 “We had at the very least a felony of assault on an officer,” Thompson said.

Officer may plead 5th in Thompson trial

Spokane police Officer Tim Moses may invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if he's subpoened to testify in the excessive force trial of Officer Karl Thompson, who is charged in connection with the death of Otto Zehm.

 Federal prosecutor Victor Boutros told U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle before opening statements today that Moses may use the 5th Amendment protection in refusing to answer some questions. Van Sickle said they'll deal with how to present him as a witness when he's called to testify later in the trial.

Boutros soon introduced Moses (pictured) to jurors in his opening statement. It was Moses, he said, who heard the “secret truth” from Thompson outside the Zip Trip that night: that, despite what he'd said in his initial statement, he had struck Zehm in the head and neck with his baton.

“What the defendant didn't know is that a series of events had taken place that would unravel the 'no strikes' lie,” Boutros said.

Thompson didn't think it would ever come out, Boutros told jurors, but it did - in a report sent with EMTs who rushed Zehm, already unconscious, to a hospital, where he died two days later.

It was what ultimately revealed to federal investigators Thompson's “web of lies,” Boutros said. (That report never made it to county prosecutors, who ruled Thompson's use of force justified, but an autopsy also showed evidence of baton strikes to Zehm's head.)

Jurors weren't told of Moses' possible intentions to plead the fifth.

Boutros' description of the “secret truth” came in an opening statement that kicked off what's expected to be a five-week trial.

Boutros began by telling jurors: “This is a case about a police officer who chose to strike first and ask questions later.”

He continued by describing Zehm as a man who always went to the Zip Trip to simply get a bottle of soda, prompting a swift objection from defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich, who said the statement violated a ruling that barred mention of the fact that Zehm was innocent of the alleged theft that prompted the police call.

The issue arose again twice in Boutros' statement, prompting Oreskovich to ask Van Sickle for a mistrial, which was denied. Read more about that in Yakima-based reporter Tom Clouse's story here.

Boutros told jurors that Thompson continued “to disgrace the badge” by lying about what happened. He said Thompson is not charged with causing Zehm's death, but that when he “brutally beat” him he broke the law.

Boutros said the suspicious circumstance call regarding Zehm was a “very common, low-priority type call that rarely results in arrest” and there was no reason for Thompson to believe Zehm posed a threat.

“Even the defendant admitted that, based on the call, he didn't have any reason to believe that the man at the ATM had committed any crime,” Boutros said. Boutros told jurors that a 7-year-old girl covers her ears as Zehm scream in pain from a Taser shock. Five years later, witnesses, including the girl who made the 911 call about Zehm, are haunted by police beating hm like that and will testify, Boutros said.

After the encounter, Thompson crafted a lie about Zehm lunging at him, and, at the end of the night “the defendant's lie about the lunge was in an email circulated to everyone” in the Spokane Police Department, Boutros said. Soon, Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks was on scene “unwittingly spreading the defendant's lies to the public.”

Soon, Thompson's close friend and fellow officer Sandra McIntyre (pictured) arrived at the Zip Trip.

She viewed the surveillance video and exclaimed out loud that Zehm never lunged, Boutros told jurors. She conferenced with Thompson outside, who Boutros said had four additional days to craft a new story for his official interview. He was even given a practice interview.

(Unbeknownst to jurors, McEntire is facing a grand jury investigation for her role in the case.)

Openings in Thompson trial today at 9 a.m.

Opening statements in the trial of Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson, charged in connection with the  death of Otto Zehm, are to begin at 9 a.m. today in Yakima.

Reporter Tom Clouse will be providing daily coverage from the courthouse in The Spokesman-Review and at our website. Here's his story on the jury pool, which is comprised of eight men and four women.

A screen shot of surveillance video from the altercation at Zip Trip is pictured.

Those looking to follow along with opening statements can check out my Twitter page here. I will be providing minute-by-minute updates from the live feed of the trial at the federal courthouse in Spokane. You can sign up for Twitter and follow me, or you can simply check my page whenever you're looking for an update. Text message updates are available.
 
Here's Clouse's preview story from earlier this week, and here's a page that explains the case and includes inks to all coverage.
 
For those wanting to know more about Thompson and Zehm, here are a couple of profiles: 
 
 

Clark: Venue Change Slaps Spokane

The verdict is in. Anyone desiring to watch the upcoming federal trial of Karl Thompson Jr. – the Spokane cop whose deadly encounter with Otto Zehm earned him an excessive force charge – must fill up the tank and travel 200 miles to Yakima. Apparently we wags of the local media are to blame for potentially tainting the jury pool with our blather. Yakima? I can’t recall the last time I was in Yakima, but I think it had something to do with mad cow disease. There’s no use whining. U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle has made up his mind, sort of.  The judge, according to our news account, conceded he wasn’t convinced that Zehm-related coverage by local media created “actual” or “perceived” bias against Thompson. Not about to be swayed by the soundness of his logic, however, the judge moved the trial anyway/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Come to think of it, I've never been to Yakima, Wash. Have you? Good experience?

Feds ask to keep Zehm trial in Spokane

A federal prosecutor has asked a judge to reconsider his Tuesday decision to move the upcoming criminal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to Yakima. But defense attorneys support the move.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin filed a motion outlining the difficulties of moving more than 100 witnesses some 200 miles for a trial he predicted would last five to six weeks. He asked for an expedited review of the motion by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Karl Thompson trial moved to Yakima

A federal judge Tuesday moved the upcoming criminal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to Yakima after defense attorneys raised concerns about the extent of local media coverage of the controversy surrounding the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle also ruled to exclude Spokane County from the jury pool. Potential jurors will be selected from a portion of Adams County and all of Franklin, Walla Walla, Yakima, Kittitas, Benton and Klickitat counties.

While Van Sickle said he’s not persuaded that the publicity has created “actual” or “perceived” bias against Thompson, he decided to move the trial nonetheless.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Longtime Dem backs Condon, blasts Verner over Zehm

Former Democratic County Chairman and one-time congressional candidate Tom Keefe said today he is reaching outside his normal partisan boundaries to endorse David Condon in the mayor's race.

Officially, municipal races in Spokane are non-partisan. But sometimes the county organization or prominent party members endorse candidates who are politically well aligned. When that happens, it's sometimes considered news, but rarely is it NEWS.

But this is not one of those cases. Instead, it's an instance of a longtime Democrat endorsing a known Republican. Keefe is a former congressional aide whose service goes all the way back to Warren G. Magnuson; he ran for Congress against Republican Rep. George Nethercutt in 2000.

Condon is the former district manager to Nethercutt's successor, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a GOP campaigner before becoming a candidate.

The reason for the cross-party endorsement? The Otto Zehm case…

Verner doesn’t blame Hession

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said last week that a campaign statement on the Otto Zehm matter wasn't meant to pin blame on others.

Responding to a news release criticizing her response to the Otto Zehm cases from her election opponent, David Condon, Verner released her own statement on Sept. 6. Part of it appeared to assign blame to her predecessor, Dennis Hession: “I believe the voters will see through his (Condon's) attempt to blame me for actions of a former city administration, the county prosecutor, and other attorneys working on this case in Federal Court. As I have said all along, I respect the judicial process and the facts that will come forth,” Verner said in the Sept. 6 news release.

Verner said the statement was rushed and probably was poorly worded in the rush to respond to Condon.
“If you read my statment verbatim, I don't say Dennis Hession should be blamed for anything,” she said. “I don't blame Dennis Hession and I don't believe Dennis Hession blames me.”

2nd officer in Zehm probe identified

With the excessive force trial of a Spokane police officer less than a month away, the identity of a second officer under active federal investigation in connection with the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm has been confirmed.

 Senior Spokane Police Officer Sandra McIntyre (pictured) already has testified before a federal grand jury that indicted fellow officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. She now faces a potential obstruction of justice charge based on her testimony, according to her attorney and others familiar with the ongoing probe.

“She is telling them what she knows,” McIntyre’s attorney, Rob Cossey, said. “But they think she has more information.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Lawyer wants Thompson trial moved

The attorney representing Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. filed a motion today asking a federal judge to move the upcoming Oct. 11 trial because of “intense” media coverage and because it has become a political issue in the upcoming mayoral election.

Carl Oreskovich acknowledged in his filing that the deadline for such motions ended on July 21. He wrote in his court filing that he had been withholding his request for change of venue to see if attorneys had difficulty finding a jury to hear evidence about the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm.

“Since that (July) date, there has been a marked upsurge of publicity and political attention surrounding this case, including dramatic public reaction to the 22 page declaration of Assistant Chief Nicks filed on Aug. 5, 2011,” Oreskovich wrote.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Nicks to retire as Kirkpatrick steps down

The Spokane Police Department’s top two officers are on their way out, leaving city officials to find new leadership as they struggle with the continuing legal fallout surrounding the death of Otto Zehm.

 Assistant Chief Jim Nicks announced Tuesday his upcoming retirement will coincide with the previously announced departure of Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

 Nicks, who is 53 and has spent 30 years on the force, played a pivotal role in the city’s handling of the fatal 2006 confrontation involving the unarmed Zehm.

At that time, Nicks was acting police chief and publicly backed the actions of Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr., telling the community that the 36-year-old mentally ill Zehm “attacked” and “lunged” at Thompson.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

April 20: Chief says time in Spokane nearing end

The truth about Otto Zehm begins to emerge…

Good evening Netizens…

 

We have been bystanders for over five years as the Otto Zehm homicide has inexorably ground its way through the news, and until recently we were none the better-informed for it. All we knew for a certainty was that an innocent man was beaten to death and asphyxiated by a group of cops in a Zip Trip Store. Fortunately, there were damning videotapes which showed the grisly beating, and the total lack of violent behavior on Zehm's part. Every time anyone got too close to the truth of the matter, they were either ignored entirely or the City Government sought to nullify their actions and words.

 

Our own Mayor, who I gleefully call Queen Mary, for her imperious, high-handed manner of governance, has apparently sought to sweep the entire affair beneath the rug. The reign of terror hardly stops there, which is more a condemnation of our City Government than other incidents of the past involving our Spokane Police Department. There is no lack of corruption in City Hall, nor in the Police Department. So it doesn't surprise me in the least that our Chief of Police Anne Kirkpatrick and Assistant Chief Jim Nicks are both bailing out of the Police Department while the chances are still good they might get away unscathed.

 

Chief Kirkpatrick has made no bones about the fact she was leaving, and has bid on several jobs in other police jurisdictions in the past. Unfortunately, the Spokane Police Guild cast a vote of “no confidence” in her leadership just days after federal documents revealed that Nicks had reversed his earlier statements and was expected to testify against Karl Thompson, the man who ceaselessly beat Otto Zehm that ill-fated night.

 

Now that the zipper has been unzipped from City Hall, and various other elements of government, we can see the filthy hands of Ernie Wuthrich, the head of the Police Guild, is not necessarily working toward justice for all. Rocky Treppiedi, like Wuthrich, works for his own designs, best-known for suing citizens who have an ordinary grievance with City Hall. More sweeping goes on in City Hall in 2008 and 2009 when Rocky Treppiedi, according to court records, begins preparing “the majority” of Spokane police officers for testimony before the federal grand jury and debriefs them afterward about what they said. This also includes non-police witnesses.

 

Too little too late, Queen Mary announces in a press conference that she will be conducting a full internal and external review of the city’s handling of the case of Otto Zehm. Why did she wait so long? Was this the power the Police Guild has over Queen Mary?

 

Wait until the criminal trial works its way onto the federal Court docket. There may be other surprises which wait unseen, and other names may come into play. Perhaps Queen Mary will descend from the throne of the City of Spokane and somehow manage to put a good face on all the corruption.

 

Of course, your results may differ.

 

Dave

Have the wheels fallen off the cart?

Good morning, Netizens…

 

In case you haven't been following recent news surrounding the Otto Zehm murder investigation, yesterday events got even more harried, hectic and somewhat misleading than they have been in recent times, especially from the perspective of Mayor Queen Mary Verner and various City Hall luminaries which will be mentioned by name as this article progresses. It has been nearly five years since Otto Zehm was murdered by the Spokane Police Department in a North Side Zip Trip store, and the details of how Otto met his demise have been in what appears to be a constant state of flux, depending upon whom was making the statements.

 

The search for truth has expanded its sphere from the various investigative officers of the Spokane Police Department to include Queen Mary Verner, City Attorney Howard Delaney Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to name a few. Unfortunately, now the tale of Otto Zehm has even reached the offices of the U.S. Attorney's office, and this is where, in the words of retired detective Ron Wright, “the wheels began to fall off the cart.”

 

David Condon, Verner's political opponent in the upcoming election, already had opened up a can of worms when he stated earlier in the week that the upcoming trial of Karl Thompson would serve as “an indictment” of City Government. Yesterday, when Mayor Verner scheduled her press conference, she had no stated reason for excluding Councilman Bob Apple from the list of Council members Verner had invited to attend, but Apple showed up of his own accord and wasted little time in asking why Verner had waited so long to pursue an investigation into the Zehm affair.

 

Is there a coverup unfolding in City Hall, as some have suggested? Is there a lack of transparency in City Government, as others have suggested? Have the wheels fallen off the cart of City Government? Has there been a coverup of the facts surrounding the murder of Otto Zehm?

 

At least from my perspective, it would seem so. Of course, your results and opinions may differ.

 

Dave

 

Mayor responds to Condon’s criticism of Verner’s handling of Zehm case

 

Below is Mayor Mary Verner's full response to the statement released earlier in the day by her opponent in the November election, David Condon, followed by Condon's statement. Condon offered harsh criticism of Verner's handling of the Otto Zehm matter. Verner's response was delivered by her campaign, not by the city.

MARY VERNER'S FULL NEWS RELEASE: 

Mayor Mary Verner says she is deeply disappointed in former Congressional aide Dave Condon’s reckless attempt to use the tragedy of the Otto Zehm death for his personal political ambition.

Condon wrote a campaign news release today, criticizing the mayor, city police, city attorneys, and city staffers.

Feds sought meetings w/ city re: Zehm

U.S. Department of Justice officials two years ago had significant enough “ethical concerns” with the city of Spokane’s legal department that they asked to meet with Mayor Mary Verner, police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and City Council President Joe Shogan.

But none of the three ever responded, and it’s unclear whether City Attorney Howard Delaney even informed them of the request that an assistant U.S. attorney labeled “urgent.”

Shogan said last week that city attorneys never told him that federal officials wanted to meet.

When shown emails on file in federal court from the U.S. attorney’s office asking Delaney to set up a meeting, Verner said last week: “I have not read this before, and that’s the extent of what I’m going to say about it.”

Read the rest of Jonathan Brunt's story here.

Pop the lid on the box and see what falls out…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

 

Like a vaunted knight of old, I have been futilely railing at Queen Mary Verner, Joe Shogun, Rocky Treppiedi, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and a host of other high-ranking city officials for what may seem like a lifetime to some, and until very recently, it would seem that I was wasting my breath and time. However, in today's paper, someone lit the fuse beneath Jonathan Brunt, reporter for the Spokesman-Review, and he posted what I feel is one of the most-informative, honest and dead-on stories about the murder of Otto Zehm since this entire ugly affair first hit our fair city.

 

We are getting closer to the truth, and Brunt may have shown us the pathway to follow. Read the entire piece, including the comments (of which there are many) here:

 

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/aug/28/feds-sought-meetings-with-city-leaders-on-zehm/

 

As in most criminal affairs, it all comes down to who knew, when did they know and why is it only now we, the citizens, are hearing bits and pieces of the truth?

 

The citizens of our fair city can either sit on their hams and watch City Hall rearrange the facts to suit themselves, thus keeping the people in the dark, or the citizens can take action at the ballot box. One way or the other, it is time for action. Of course, your thoughts on this matter may differ.

 

Dave

When will the guilty be held accountable?

Good evening, Netizens…

At some considerable risk of having this message zotted by my handlers, I am going to post this message from former Sheriff Tony Bamonte to Tim Durkin, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. I am posting it verbatim, in its entirety, in the hopes that others might read and carefully consider Mr. Bamonte's impeccable comments regarding the murder of Otto Zehm. I knew from the beginning that something was horribly wrong about the initial police version of what had transpired, and recent developments make me even more certain we were misled from the beginning.

So, without further ado, here is former Sheriff Tony Bamonte's letter:

Dear Mr. Durkin:

Please accept this correspondence as a formal complaint against the following people: Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Spokane City Attorney Howard Delaney, and assistant city attorney Rocky Trepeddi. I am making my complaint to you because of your involvement and knowledge about the Zehm case. I ask that you forward this complaint to the attorney general for his approval. I believe you already have strong evidence to prove that, in harmony with each other, the above community leaders have conspired to mislead and have deceived the public for over five years. This concerns what appears to be the brutal killing of an innocent citizen by a police officer. The evidence of this has been overwhelming and exceptionally clear. I am especially concerned about Mayor Verner’s conduct in the case. In her position she is the only public official in the city with the power to remove the city attorney and the police chief for criminal behavior, yet, to this date, has taken no action of any kind.

Most important, in the positions each of these officials occupy, it was their duty to find and know the truth and protect the public. Instead, I allege each one of them knew the truth, yet in violation of their oaths and with complete disregard for the public’s welfare, publicly lied and concealed this felony crime. Further, I believe that the officers involved had to have been directed by their legal council to lie. The complicity of Mayor Verner and Chief Kirkpatrick is profound. Their failure to know the facts behind this case is unbelievable as they are both attorneys involved in one of Spokane’s largest scandals. Why would the mayor of Washington’s second largest city, make the public statement “In my opinion, … I just don’t think that the behavior of the officer rose to criminal behavior”?

In her position, this was a criminal act and violation of her oath of office in a direct attempt to deceive the public. I am a 25-year veteran of law enforcement, having served eight years on the Spokane Police Department and 12 years as the elected sheriff of Pend Oreille County. Consequently, I clearly recognize how government works, who will have the facts as fast as they become available, and who makes the decisions in high-profile cases such as this. This constitutes a number of criminal acts and is willful and wanton disregard for the safety of our community by Mayor Verner.

There is an established pattern of Spokane’s public officials lying to the public and committing serious crimes that go uncharged or prosecuted. Now, you have irrefutable evidence that Spokane’s top officials have became part of a cover-up by our police department of a senseless killing. It appears they will not have to answer for their crimes. It looks that Deputy Nicks struck a deal to protect the main suspects. I hope that’s not the case.

Again, please accept this letter as a formal complaint to investigate and charge these public officials with violating whatever laws they have broken – the list is long.

Sincerely,

Tony Bamonte

 

 Dave

Mayor pushes to resolve Zehm suit

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner announced Tuesday that she is seeking “all courses of action” to resolve the civil case surrounding the city’s handling of the fatal 2006 confrontation between Spokane police and mentally ill janitor Otto Zehm.

Verner said media attention over the past week has brought “raw emotions and ongoing frustration from our community, made worse by the complexity of legal processes surrounding the matter,” according to a news release.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Expert says officers caused Zehm’s death

A medical expert hired by the Spokane police officer facing criminal charges over the fatal Otto Zehm confrontation is blaming other officers at the scene for causing the unarmed janitor’s death.

Court documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court indicate Dr. Daniel Davis is prepared to testify in Officer Karl Thompson’s excessive force trial that the asphyxiation that killed Zehm was caused by officers pressing down on him while he was hogtied on the floor of a Zip Trip convenience store.

Read the rest of Tom Clouses's story here.

Expert says Zehm’s death caused by officers

A medical expert hired by the Spokane police officer facing criminal charges over the fatal Otto Zehm confrontation is blaming other officers at the scene for causing the unarmed janitor’s death.

Court documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court indicate Dr. Daniel Davis is prepared to testify in Officer Karl Thompson’s excessive force trial that the asphyxiation that killed Zehm was caused by officers pressing down on him while he was hogtied on the floor of a Zip Trip convenience store. Thomas Clouse, SR  More here.

Will there ever be justice for Otto Zehm?

Nicks changes story on Zehm’s death

 

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner Tuesday acknowledged that the city is re-evaluating its legal position in the Otto Zehm controversy after new court documents indicate officers violated use-of-force and other departmental policies in the fatal 2006 confrontation.

According to court records filed last week in the upcoming federal trial against Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson, Assistant Police Chief Jim Nicks is prepared to testify that major crimes detectives failed to analyze the video of the confrontation compared to Thompson’s statement; they never followed up on a report from an ambulance crew that Thompson struck Zehm in the head with a baton; and his own review of the video shows that Thompson violated several policies and procedures by applying unjustified force against the retreating Zehm.

Read the rest of the story here.

The truth about Otto Zehm emerges…finally.

Good morning, Netizens…

 

To quote the Spokesman-Review's Shawn Vestal, in speaking of Jim Nicks' erratic and misleading trip to the truth regarding the death of Otto Zehm, “It took just five years, 20 weeks and a day.” That, folks, is just too damned long for a so-called leader of Spokane's Police Department, let alone any leader of government.

 

Oh, I am reasonably certain, given the opportunity, to reel his statements made at the time, Jim Nicks would probably gleefully take back everything he said about Officer Karl Thompson's assault on Otto Zehm, but this that isn't going to happen. The cat is out of the bag, and the truth is pretty ugly. A police officer, our Acting Chief at the time, lied to everyone, either by omission or by intent. He should have looked carefully at the videotape from the Zip Trip before he opened his mouth, and he did not.

 

Shawn Vestal's fact-filled article, which is located at http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/aug/10/shawn-vestal-truth-about-zehm-sure-took-a-while/ pretty much says it all.

 

For the sake of absolute clarity, what this is not about is the rank-and-file policemen and policewomen who put their lives on the line every day in their performance of their duties. Their thankless and often dangerous job is a mean, ugly job. They serve as human garbage disposal experts combined with social workers extraordinaire; they deal with the dregs of society that none of us are capable nor eager to contend with, and yet deal with compassion with those of society in need. That pretty much describes their jobs, and I, for one, will not disparage their efforts.

 

No, the Otto Zehm death is all about a handful of police commanders who lied, and perhaps even attempted to cover it up. Particularly the lies started with Jim Nicks and Karl Thompson. In the words of our current police chief, Anne Kirkpatrick, “You lie, you die.” Will anyone in Spokane's City government have the temerity to hold Kirkpatrick to her word?

 

It is time to excise the cancer. Five years is too long to wait.

 

Dave

Court: Zehm’s innocence not admissible

A jury likely will not learn that Otto Zehm was innocent of a crime when he was confronted by a Spokane police officer in a fatal encounter five years ago, federal appeals court judges ruled Thursday. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supported a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle to exclude from the trial of Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. the evidence that Zehm had not committed a crime prior to the incident on March 18, 2006.

Carl Oreskovich, one of the attorneys defending Thompson against the felony charges of excessive force and lying to investigators, said he was “obviously” pleased with the decision.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

9th Circuit hears arguments in Zehm case

SEATTLE — A jury should be told Otto Zehm hadn’t committed any crime before he was beaten by a Spokane police officer who claims Zehm was aggressive and defiant when confronted in a North Side convenience store, a federal appeals court panel was told Monday.

Federal prosecutors have appealed a pretrial ruling by U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane that excludes evidence of Zehm’s innocence as prejudicial and inflammatory. They told a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals it would help the jury decide whether Thompson was lying when he later described Zehm with words like sinister, aggressive, defiant and resolute.

But an attorney for Officer Karl Thompson said the trial judge is right to keep such information from a jury when the trial starts, because Thompson didn’t know those facts when he approached Zehm. It’s inflammatory and could prejudice the jury against the officer, attorney Carl Oreskovich said.

Read the rest of Jim Camden's story here.

Officer’s trial over Zehm death delayed

The criminal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. has been delayed again.

U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle agreed to a request by defense attorney Carl Oreskovich to change the date of the trial despite objections from a federal prosecutor.

The trial, stemming from the 2006 confrontation between Thompson and Otto Zehm that resulted in Zehm’s death, has been moved to Oct. 11 from March 7.

The trial was put on hold last summer after prosecutors asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling by Van Sickle that prevented them from presenting evidence that Zehm had not committed a crime on March 18, 2006, when he was confronted by Thompson in a Spokane convenience store.

Thompson struck Zehm with a police baton and shocked him with a Taser during the confrontation, which included six other officers.

Attorneys for both sides will travel to Seattle on Feb. 7 to present oral arguments to a panel of appellate judges.