City Of Spokane Re-Evaluating Stance On Otto Zehm Case - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Former Police Chief: Officer Violated Policy In Zehm Case

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SPOKANE, Wash. – The man who once ran the Spokane Police Department says officers violated multiple policies the night they confronted Otto Zehm at a convenience store in 2006.  Zehm later died in leg restraints after suffering an episode of excited delirium, according to the Spokane County Coroner.

Officer Karl Thompson was indicted on charges after responding to a Zip Trip on North Division to investigate a report of a suspicious person.

Jim Nicks was acting Chief of Police in the spring of 2006 and had previously said Officer Thompson used baton strikes and a taser against Zehm because the man refused to obey officer commands.

As attorneys get ready for the criminal trial in October, authorities filed an affidavit from Nicks that now accuses Thompson of violating multiple policies the night of the confrontation.

Nicks now says the use of a taser, "is contrary to the Department's defensive tactics training and violated Spokane Police Department Policies."

He says the use of baton strikes, "were not within SPD policy, were unnecessary, were not appropriate and were unreasonable under the circumstances."

Nicks is now the Assistant Chief of Police in the City of Spokane.

Mayor Mary Verner released a statement this morning saying she is aware of the affidavit.  She said the City is evaluating the information in light of a separate civil case filed by Zehm's family.

Officer Thompson's criminal trial is scheduled to start in October.

KHQ Local News Reporter Anthony Gomes contributed to this report.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

OFFICIAL RELEASE FROM THE MAYOR'S OFFICE: In the last week Spokane Police Department Assistant Chief Jim Nicks has provided an affidavit on behalf of the prosecution in the pending federal criminal trial in the Otto Zehm matter. Mayor Mary Verner today is issuing the following statement:

"Assistant Chief Nicks' affidavit is consistent with what U.S. Attorney Durkin indicated the Assistant Chief would testify to in a legal filing in April 2010. As we did then, we are evaluating this information in light of the case the City is involved in—the separate civil case.

"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."

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