Mayor: "No comment" on claim of "false statements" in Zehm case


by & Ashley Korslien

Posted on September 30, 2011 at 10:39 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 1 at 7:14 AM

SPOKANE-- Spokane Mayor Mary Verner still has no comment on a federal prosecutor’s claim that she handed out “patently false statements” regarding the Otto Zehm case after KREM 2 News crews tried three times in two days to get a response from the City of Spokane.
In court documents filed on September 28th, Federal Prosecutor Tim Durkin accused Mayor Verner of handing out “patently false statements” in the Zehm case.  Durkin referenced a list of frequently asked questions handed out by Mayor Verner at a news conference on September 9th that said City of Spokane attorneys met with federal prosecutors in 2009.  In court documents Durkin said that meeting never happened.
All of this stems from the beating of a mentally disabled man in 2006.  Otto Zehm headed into a Zip Trip on North Division in Spokane to buy a candy bar when he was beaten, tazered and restrained by Spokane Police who mistakenly thought he was a burglary suspect.  Zehm died two days after the incident.
KREM 2’s Ashley Korslien approached Mayor Verner outside of Truth Ministries where she had a scheduled public appearance Friday night to try to get answers to the rare accusations made by a federal prosecutor against a mayor of a city.  Verner is running for re-election in November. 
The following is a transcript of the conversation.
Korslien: "We actually have a few questions regarding the Otto Zehm case.”
Verner: "I'm not going to talk about that, I'm here for dinner."
Korslien: "No comment at all?"
Verner: "I'm here to fix dinner with the folks here at Truth Ministries."
Korslien: "However, it is a federal prosecutor making these claims that you handed out false statements.”
Verner: “Are you going to respect what I just said?”
Korslien: “I'm just wondering when you might comment for the people.”
Verner: (No answer)
Korslien: “Are you under legal council not to comment?”
Verner: (No answer)
Korslien: “Any word of when you might make a comment for the people of Spokane, Mayor?”
Verner: “I hope you enjoy the dinner here this evening.  It’s an opportunity for the community to support Truth Ministries in Spokane.”
Korslien: “Mayor, we are just asking these questions for the people of Spokane. This is a federal prosecutor..."
Verner: "Are you a federal prosecutor?"
Korslien: "No, but it is a federal prosecutor making these claims that you gave these statements and we are just trying to get answers for the people of Spokane."
Verner: "Boy, you are showing that bright light in my face. It's kind of hard to see."
Korslien: "There's no word on when you might make a comment?"

Verner: (No answer)

KREM 2 News crews also tried to talk with City of Spokane attorneys Rocky Treppiedi and Howard Delaney (who were listed on the FAQ sheet as having attended the meeting in 2009 with federal prosecutors) on Friday about whether or not they attended a meeting with the federal prosecutors, but their receptionist said they had no comment.  On Thursday when KREM 2 News first reported Durkin’s accusations and tried to get a comment from Mayor Verner at City Hall, a City of Spokane employee told KREM 2 News the mayor had no comment.