SPOKANE -- The City of Spokane filed its formal response Friday in the Otto Zehm federal civil lawsuit. In a written statement, City Attorney, Howard Delaney agrees that the death of Mr. Zehm was a tragedy, we maintain that the City, and the officers who responded, did so in a responsible and lawful manner.
The lawsuit, which names the city and nine police officers, was filed earlier this year and was recently amended by the plaintiffs. Attornys for Otto Zehm's estate and his mother field the federal lawsuit in March. The suit claims police not only violated laws but state laws too, including Zehm's right to privacy after his death.
Zehm died more than three years ago on the floor of a North Spokane Zip Trip after he was tased and beaten by Spokane Police officers who believed he had robbed an ATM.
Washington law also states autopsy results are private. However, the suit now says Jim Nicks, who was acting Spokane Police Chief at the time, violated the law by holding a press conference after the medical examiner ruled Zehm's death was a homicide.