Nicks' Testimony Highlights Day 5 Of Thompson Trial - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Asst. Chief Nicks' Testimony Highlights Day 5 Of Thompson Trial

SPOKANE, Wash. - Assistant Spokane Police Chief Jim Nicks took the stand Wednesday in the criminal trial of Officer Karl Thompson for the use of excessive force and lying to investigators in the 2006 death of 36-year-old Otto Zehm.

Nicks' 45-minute testimony began as he viewed an e-mail from former Spokane Police Department Public Information Officer Tom Lee explaining what "allegedly" happened the night of the incident.

In the e-mail from Lee it says that officers responded to a "suspicious person call" and went on to mention that when they arrived a "man who was large and strong immediately lunged at the officer." That man later turned out to be Otto Zehm.

Nicks went on to say that he also was at the scene the night of the deadly confrontation and was quickly briefed by several people before he met with the media. Nicks said that the briefings he received at the scene were consistent with the information put out by former PIO Lee.

Nicks mentioned that five days after the Zehm incident he saw the security footage but did not retract statements he made to the media the night of the incident because he wanted the investigation to be completed before he did that.

On March 18, 2006 Thompson entered a Zip Trip, at 1712 N. Division St., with information that Zehm may have robbed two women in a car using a nearby ATM. That information later proved to be false. Federal prosecutors say Zehm entered the convenience store, which he routinely visited, to buy a soft drink and fast food.

Five and a half years ago when the fatal incident took place, Chief Nicks initially stood-by Officer Thompson's actions, saying Thompson did nothing wrong. But as the case drew on, and the security footage from the night of the confrontation made its way through the media, Nicks began backing off his statements.

This past August Nicks has drawn completely different conclusions about the Zip Trip incident saying, "the firing of a taser at Otto Zehm is contrary to the department's defensive tactics training and violated Spokane Police Department policies."

Nicks went on to say Thompson's use of his baton was not within SPD policy saying it was quote: "unnecessary, not appropriate, and unreasonable under the circumstances."

Also in his testimony Nicks said that right now Thompson has a "staff position with the Spokane Police Department".

Nicks mentioned that about one year ago he had a conversation with Officer Thompson at the Public Safety Building in Spokane.  Thompson claims during the conversation he corrected Nicks on the statement that Zehm "lunged" at him the night of March 18, 2006. Assistant Chief Nicks says he does not remember that Thompson ever said anything about that.

Also on Wednesday morning, Dr. Sally Aiken took the stand. Dr. Aiken serves as a Medical Examiner in Spokane County and worked the scene the night of the Otto Zehm incident. The role of the Medical Examiner is to determine the cause and the manner of death.

For up-to-the-minute developments on the testimony from the Thompson trial, follow us on Twitter @KHQLocalNews. KHQ also summarizes developments from the trial on our NewsBreaks streaming live on KHQ.com at 10, Noon and 2 each weekday.  

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