SPOKANE, Wash.—The Spokane Police Department is finally closing the book on one of the most high-profile cases the City has ever seen.
It has been almost eight years since Otto Zehm was beaten at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. Zehm was beaten by Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson and later died.
Eight years later, Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said he and his department are working hard to prove to the community that things are done differently now.
"Mr. Zehm did not lose his life in vain," said Straub at a Friday press conference.
On Friday, a Department of Justice review gave 42 recommendations to Spokane Police to avoid incidents of excessive force in the future.
"It's not a chapter closed in the sense that there's still a lot of work to do," added U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby.
The mandatory changes include better reporting by officers who use force out in the field, as well as more training and more detailed internal reviews. They are expected to be fully implemented over the next 18 months.
And perhaps no one is more pleased to see change than Otto Zehm's family.
"The process is going good, and that's what we want," said Zehm's cousin, Dale.
But everyone agrees it's a work in progress.
"We appreciated that, "added Dale. "And my aunt, who is Otto's mom appreciated that too."
The Otto Zehm case has had far-reaching implications ever since that day in 2006. Now, SPD leaders said it is time to move past what happened, but to never forget the lessons they have learned.