Zehm family attorney calls new documents in the case 'stunning'


by KREM.com & Othello Richards


Posted on August 9, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 9 at 7:02 PM

SPOKANE -- A year and a half ago KREM 2 News first revealed the Assistant Spokane Police Chief drastically changed his story in the death of local citizen, Otto Zehm.

He now says, and is willing to testify, that a fellow Spokane Police Officer acted inappropriately by beating and tasing Zehm.  Otto Zehm died two days later.

The federal trial for Officer Karl Thompson scheduled to begin in October.

The Zehm family's lawyer says he's not surprised at the Assistant Chief's analysis.

In the new court documents released, Assistant Chief Jim Nicks says Karl Thompson's use of force the night of March 18th 2006 was "not reasonable".
Nicks says Thompson never tried to talk to Zehm, and Zehm retreated the entire time and did not appear assaultive.

Nicks also says Thompson's use of his baton and taser were unauthorized based on the department's policy.
The attorney representing the Zehm family in the civil case says he finds the impact of the Assistant Chief’s statements stunning.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner says the city is re-evaluating its legal stance in the Otto Zehm case.  She issued the following statement today:

"We have a responsibility to evaluate all information in this matter.  We must allow the process to run its course.  Ultimately, we, too, are seeking an outcome that is just and fair, based on all the evidence and circumstances.  The City of Spokane and I are committed to open and transparent government, and this is part of the process.  Our employees must tell the truth as they see it."