Cop Convicted in Homicide and Coverup Remains Free

Background Info:
Otto Zehm (1970–2006) was a mentally disabled man from Spokane, Washington who died on March 20, 2006, two days after being beaten, tasered multiple times, and improperly restrained by seven Spokane Police Officers.[1] Zehm committed no crime and on May 30, 2006, the Spokane County coroner ruled the death a homicide.[2][3]

On March 18, 2006, Zehm — who worked as a janitor and did not own a car — had gone on foot to an ATM at his bank to withdraw money from his account. Two young women, who were in a car at the ATM when Zehm arrived, erroneously reported to police by phone that a man was attempting to steal money from the ATM. The women followed Zehm in their car while reporting additional information to the police dispatch by phone.[4]

Zehm next entered the convenience store that he routinely visited to buy a soft drink and fast food. Video from the convenience store security cameras show that within sixteen seconds of the first officer entering the store, the officer had run up to Zehm, whose back was initially turned to him, and batoned Zehm to the ground - the first of at least seven baton strikes used on Zehm. Within another sixteen seconds Zehm had also been tasered. In addition to the multiple beatings and taserings, Zehm was improperly hog-tied by police and placed on his stomach for more than sixteen minutes. Furthermore, the police requested a non-rebreather mask from paramedics at the scene and strapped it to Zehm's face. The non-rebreather mask was not attached to oxygen. Zehm stopped breathing three minutes after the mask was placed on his face. When ruled a homicide by the county coroner on May 30, 2006, the cause of death was reported as "lack of oxygen to the brain due to heart failure while being restrained on his stomach." No illegal drugs or alcohol were found in Zehm's system.

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Zehm

Officer Convicted Nov. 2, 2011:
YAKIMA - A jury today convicted Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. of needlessly beating Otto Zehm and then lying about it to cover up his actions.

The verdict comes five years and seven months since Zehm’s life ended and growing questions of police accountability began.

Prosecutors are expected to seek a prison term of six to eight years, arguing that Thompson was in a position of trust and that Zehm, who was schizophrenic, was particularly vulnerable.

“We are greatly relieved, the jury performed its duty,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin, who oversaw preparations for the federal case. “It’s not something we take any joy in. But it’s a very important case and we still have a lot of work to do.”

Despite the criminal conviction, U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle allowed Thompson, 64, to remain free despite a request by federal prosecutors to immediately detain him, which is mandatory for violent crimes.

Late today, Durkin filed a motion seeking to hold an 11 a.m. hearing in Yakima that would be video-linked to Spokane. The motion seeks to have Thompson detained until his sentencing, which Van Sickle did not immediately set.

In court, defense attorney Carl Oreskovich argued against Thompson’s arrest, saying the case “involved the use of force, but I do not believe it is an act of violence” that would trigger mandatory detention. In 2009, Thompson posted a $50,000 signature bond following his indictment. Today, he declined several requests for comment following the verdict.

Oreskovich said appeal options will be considered after a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

“I am surprised and stunned by the outcome of this case,” Oreskovich said. “We believe Officer Thompson is an innocent man. We are going to keep fighting for him. This is a devastating day for him and us.”

Jurors declined comment as they left the federal courthouse. One said they had decided as a group to decline post-verdict interviews.

In Spokane, Mayor Mary Verner said today she’s hoping the verdict will enable the community to begin healing after years of divisive debate over the fatal Zehm encounter.

“This tragedy has torn us apart,” Verner said. “As we reach closure I hope that we’ll think first and foremost of the people whose lives were changed on that day in 2006 and that we will rally together as a community.”

Paperwork terminating Thompson’s employment with the Spokane police force is being prepared, said Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. Although internal investigations into the conduct of other officers on the force are possible, the chief said she won’t initiate any until federal authorities advise that their investigations into the department are complete.

Full article and details at link: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/nov/02/zehm-decision/

Once again we see that there are two sets of laws in this country. One for the police, and another set of laws for all the rest of us. In a position of trust, the police should be held to a higher standard, not a lesser one. So long as abuses of authority are tolerated, more and more innocents will die. It is only a matter of time before fascism come knocking at your door.

Cases like this make it blatantly obvious that what I have said time and again is true. There is indeed two standards of law, or "justice" today. That is the only conclusion that can be reached through applied logic, once you peel away all the layers of sensationalism, propaganda, and rhetoric. It's quite a simple exercise really. All we have to do is imagine for a moment, that the roles are reversed. Let's do that now, and then answer for yourself, honestly, the questions I pose.

Let us pretend now, that a woman sees a man trying to rob the ATM machine, but this time instead of calling police, she calls her boyfriend, who then shows up at the scene with a group of his friends to confront the thief. They then proceed to beat the man to death. They later find out, that the man they had killed, was actually a police officer. So then they proceed to try to cover up what they have done as well. Like the police officer in this case used the tools of his trade to cover up the crime, let us pretend that our hypothetical group of men here, used their own tools. Let's say, they threw the body in a furnace at a high school where they worked as night-time maintenance people.

Now in this hypothetical case, we would also have to assume that the cop had indeed actually robbed the ATM machine, thereby giving the citizens the legal right to detain him. Police only need probable cause, even if no crime has in fact occurred, in order to detain someone. That of course, would only make the attackers that much more "justified" in killing the man, than police were. Because, after all, in the real case, Otto Zehm had committed no crime whatsoever. All it took was an anonymous call from a "concerned citizen" to justify the detainment and ultimately the death of an innocent man.

(If you honestly believe that no cop would ever actually rob an ATM machine, and that our hypothetical is unrealistic, I suggest you have a look at the National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily.)

Okay, so the stage is set for the hypothetical role-reversal here, for the purposes of logical exercise. The would-be perpetrator turned victim, is set upon by a group of citizens acting completely within their rights, initially anyway, to detain this suspect. However, they then proceed to beat the man to death without provocation, and then use whatever resources at their disposal to cover up the crime.

Now ask yourself, honestly now... Do you think that only one person out of that group would be put on trial? Do you think that after being convicted, that one person would be facing as little as 6 years for killing a cop, dirty cop or not? Further, do you think that after being convicted, any judge anywhere in the country would agree that the homicide was "not an act of violence" and that the convicted should walk free until they got around to sentencing whenever they felt like it? And then to top it all off, do you think that this whole time, after using the school's incinerator to cover up the crime, the janitor would still have his job, and that the employer would only start to draw up the papers to terminate him the day of his conviction?

There is something very wrong with this picture folks. Police are supposed to be a trusted authority. Would we give such leeway to a father who "mistakenly" beat a baby to death? Certainly not. So why do we allow this, time and time again, letting the police get away with a slap on the wrist or get off entirely for the full array of crimes that they are supposed to be there to prevent?

Coincidentally, I just flipped over to Facebook and saw this question posed on the FB page for Police officers and supporters...

The Use of Force Continuum is the generalized standard by which most American police departments train their officers in regards to what force should be applied, when, and how. Clearly in the case we read about above, the standard went right out the window. But it appears that by this website even posing the question, there are those that wish to do away with any standard of restraint at all, thereby leaving them even less likely to be held accountable for instances of excessive force. After all, if there is no measure of applied force, no force could be considered excessive. You can read the comments at their Facebook page for yourself...


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