Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan unsuccessfully attempted to derail an employment contract agreement between the city and the police leadership union Monday night, saying “citizens still hold a grudge” against police for recent misconduct.
The council was considering a five-year collective bargaining deal with the Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association. The agreement is largely in line with a deal struck with the Police Guild earlier this year, according to Council President Ben Stuckart.
Despite Fagan’s objections, the deal was approved by a 6-1 vote.
After reading a lengthy list of “reforms and accomplishments” by the department under Chief Frank Straub, Fagan said citizens were “still angry” that almost 50 Spokane police officers saluted convicted former officer Karl Thompson Jr. as U.S. marshals led him from a federal courtroom in 2011.
A Yakima jury convicted Thompson of using excessive force and lying to cover up his attack on 36-year-old Otto Zehm in 2006. He is serving a four-year sentence at a minimum-security facility in Arizona.
“True healing in this community won’t come until the public reconciles that action through a sincere and effective apology,” said Fagan, referring to the “50-man salute.”
Fagan also mentioned the actions of former officers Brad Thoma and James “Jay” Olsen merited a public apology. In 2009, Thoma was fired after being arrested in connection with a drunken hit-and-run incident. He later sued the city for damages, and lost.
In 2007, Olsen was off-duty and drinking when he shot a fleeing, unarmed man named Shonto Pete in the back of the head as Pete ran down an embankment into Peaceful Valley.
Fagan said all of the men’s supervisors should have done more to “provide or recommend any assistance” to the men before their misdeeds.
No other council members publicly agreed with him.
“It’s time to move forward,” Stuckart said.
“We all want the best police department we can have,” Councilwoman Candace Mumm said. “How we get there is a difference of opinion.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.