Thompson trial begins; relaxed at times, serious at others



Posted on October 11, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 12 at 4:27 PM

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- After a five year delay the trial for officer Karl Thompson began today in Yakima.


The trial is taking place in Yakima after the judge decided to move it from Spokane because of pretrial publicity.

Police Officer Karl F. Thompson is on trial for use of excessive force and lying to investigators.

KREM 2’s Katie Utehs was at Wednesday’s jury selection and summarizes the details.  

According to Utehs, jury selection was lighthearted at times with the judge and potential jurors making a few jokes. She said there seems to be a certain amount of relief that it's actually starting.


Over 70 people entered the Yakima Courthouse Wednesday as potential jurors.

The jury selection process included asking people their feelings about law enforcement and if they could handle seeing the video where Karl Thompson hits Otto Zehm with his baton.

36-year-old Zehm was beaten with a baton, hogtied, had a plastic mask placed over his face and was sat on by some officers. He died two days later without regaining consciousness.

About a quarter of the room said they had close friends or family members that work as law enforcement.

One by one the judge eliminated people based on their responses.

Utehs said one juror said she had a vacation conflict because the cruise ship wouldn't wait for the 16 to 17 day trial to finish.

The judge said he has a way of persuading people and that he would make a call. The jury pool and attorneys all laughed out loud.

The trial was moved to Yakima because of intense publicity.