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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Clark: Drunken cop back on job after hiring genius lawyer

A mediated settlement would reward drunken driver Brad Thoma with nearly 300 grand in back pay and lawyer fees, plus put the fired Spokane police sergeant back on the job at the reduced rank of detective.

Well, thank God.

I’ve seen how things normally work out for errant cops around here.

We’re lucky we don’t have to raise Thoma’s pay and make him chief, too.

Who says grime doesn’t pay?

Not Thoma. He’s been holing eagles ever since that fateful golf outing in 2009.

To recap: Tests showed Thoma (rhymes with beery “foam-a”) was plowed when he plowed his appropriately named Dodge Ram into the back of a citizen’s pickup.

Thoma, a law enforcement professional who has no doubt dealt with countless drunken drivers during his career, knew exactly what to do:

Flee the crime scene like our last days in Vietnam.

The freedom run didn’t last long. Tailed by the victim and another driver, Thoma was soon nabbed by a state trooper in a supermarket parking lot.

Good thing.

Tests showed the guy drank so much he was damn near Thomatose.

Many of us assumed (hoped?) the tawdry tale of Thoma would end with his firing being upheld as sound and just.

Ah, but life is rarely so just in SpoCopLand.

This is the place where a drunken off-duty officer got away with shooting an unarmed civilian in the head, where an off-duty sheriff’s detective wagged his manhood at a barista only to have his firing overturned by a board of numbskulls, where a …

OK. You get the idea.

What I’m saying is that all a bad cop needs to get out of a jam around here is a sob story and a sly lawyer.

The Thoma case looked simple on the surface.

One of our yahoos in blue had a few too many and then did some really dumb and unbecoming things.

As we now learn, however, Thoma suffers from the disease of alcoholism due to all the guilt of having to enforce laws for a living.

Funny. Nobody seemed to know that Thoma was an alcoholic until after he rear-ended and ran.

But that’s the thing about a good defense. Why come up with one unless you really need it?

The point is that Thoma’s attorney, Bob Dunn, equates his client’s elbow-bending fender-bender with someone who suffers from epilepsy.

Hitting that truck was like an epileptic having a neurological seizure.

Genius. Pure genius.

Poor Thoma must suffer from amnesia, too.

That’s the only disease I can think of to explain why a veteran police officer would take off like a cowardly crook.

But why get bogged down in needless logic?

There’s a deeper issue to all this, my friends.

And that is if you don’t already have the number of Dunn’s law firm saved onto the contact list of your smartphone, well, you better do it now.

This guy’s so good that I’m thinking of getting bombed and running naked through the nearest Rosauers store.

Don’t laugh. I’ll own this newspaper by the time Dunn gets through filing briefs.

That said, the aforementioned settlement still hangs on a vote of council members.

But if you’re hoping for the council to break years of precedent and suddenly grow a spine and do the right thing, well, don’t bank on it.

Spokane Mayor David Condon is already in full political backpedal mode over Thoma.

In a Wednesday press release, Condon powerfully declares that paying off Thoma “sends the wrong message to our community, it does not represent our values.”

While on the other hand …

“We are proposing this settlement to protect taxpayer dollars. Within the state legal constraints we operate under, this is a good legal and financial decision for the City.”

Thank you, Mayor Doublespeak.

And out-of-towners wonder why Spokane has so many one-term mayors.

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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