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Doug Clark: Thompson’s ‘responsibility’ stance tests justice

And now for the latest in legalized leg pulling.

Ex-Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson Jr. has “accepted responsibility” for pounding Otto Zehm to pulp in 2006 and lying to investigators afterward to cover his slimy hide.

Or so the Thompson shysters claim.

Gee, Karl. Too bad you didn’t have this “come to Jesus” moment a few years back.

Could’ve saved the public all the expense and bother of holding a federal trial. You know, the one in Yakima last fall that found you GUILTY as hell.

This is just another Hail Mary ploy by the defense, of course.

The goal this time is to get Thompson a discount on the already woefully thin amount of prison time he has coming.

Sad but true: Thompson’s convictions for excessive force and lying to investigators put him in a sentencing range of between just 27 and 33 months.

Cogitate on those numbers for a moment.

Thirty-three months max. For all those Taser shocks and vicious strikes that Thompson rained down on Otto with his special unbreakable cop club.

It’s chump change considering how Zehm – wrongly suspected of thievery – died two days following his beat-down in a North Division convenience store.

Justice? Tell me about it.

The prisons are filled with inmates pulling way more time than that for nonviolent marijuana convictions.

Yet Team Thompson wants the judge to dip below these weenie guidelines because, well, ol’ Karl is such a fine stand-up dude.

Or as Thompson lawyer Carl Oreskovich reasons in a legal filing …

“While Defendant Thompson did choose to exercise his right to trial, this does not preclude him from receiving a sentencing reduction for acceptance of responsibility.

“Thompson has understood and accepted responsibility for the actions he took inside the Zip Trip store.”

You could fertilize the entire back 40 with a load of bull like that.

Hopefully, the judge has more sense than a mollusk, which is all he’ll need to see this for exactly what it is.

Not that I expect Team Thompson to back off. Heck, no.

Before this is over, they’ll be asking the judge to send their disgraced client to Acapulco for a six-month vacation at the resort of his choice.

Accepting responsibility?

To borrow an old metaphor, Thompson wouldn’t know the meaning of the term if it climbed up and wet his leg.

My hard-nosed Old Man, rest his soul, had a special fondness for the “R” word and would drill me with it daily when I was growing up.

Responsibility this. Responsibility that.

There was never any wiggle room about what it meant.

Accepting responsibility means you don’t lie. And when you screw up, you face up to what you did and take the consequences without whining.

Thompson’s act is nothing new.

Just about every hoosegow-bound punk gets some sort of religion when he starts to feel the ol’ cell doors closing.

Speaking of which, some of you out there are steamed that Thompson has been allowed be out and about pending the outcome of all this wrangling.

Not this guy.

Remember? Not long after the Yakima jury lowered the boom, Thompson actually did spend a couple days in one of the area’s lesser confinements.

Free or not, Thompson probably sees the inside of that cell every time he shuts his eyes.

So keep the fires burning for Otto. Don’t give up.

This fight won’t be over until Convict Karl is learning to accept his responsibilities while he’s locked up good and proper.

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