SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Mayor Mary Verner is set to hold a news conference at 9 a.m. today regarding the Otto Zehm case. She's expected to respond to recent criticism leveled by mayoral candidate David Condon earlier this week regarding her handling of the Zehm case.
Mayor Verner is also reportedly expected to announce the formation of a special commission to investigate Zehm's death.
In March, 2006, the unarmed 36-year-old janitor who suffered from mental problems was confronted by police in a north Spokane convenience store after he was mistakenly suspected of stealing money at an ATM.
He died two days after he was beaten, hogtied, and shocked with a taser. Both criminal and civil trials are pending.
MAYOR VERNER PRESS RELEASE:
Spokane Mayor Mary Verner along with several members of the Spokane City Council today are announcing their intent to complete a thorough internal and external review of all aspects of the case. The review will begin when the legal cases in this matter are completed.
This review will be in addition to the Spokane Police Department's planned investigation of the March 2006 incident to determine if any additional policy changes, training, or other actions are necessary.
"Our citizens expect the City's elected leaders to take responsibility for the actions of our officers and other employees and do our best to see justice is served in an incident where a man—Mr. Otto Zehm—died," says Mayor Mary Verner. "We are working together to step up to these reasonable expectations of our citizens."
The Mayor and Council Members will work out the details of the review over the next couple of months as we await the conclusion of the criminal case against Officer Karl Thompson and the separate civil lawsuit against the City. The officials will work to:
Name an expert to conduct the review.
Determine the scope and standards of review.
Name a panel of citizens to oversee the review.
Name the City's Police Ombudsman to serve as the liaison to the panel.
"We must be part of the healing process for our community and the process to rebuild trust in our Police Department," says Council President Joe Shogan.
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