Spokane Roiled by Police Shooting Controversy; Feds Called In


The outgoing mayor of Spokane, Wash., says she will ask the U.S. Justice Department to launch a “pattern and practice” investigation of the city’s police department, which federal prosecutors described earlier this month as participating in an “an extensive cover-up” of the fatal 2006 police confrontation with unarmed janitor Otto Zehm, reports the city’s Spokesman-Review. A jury on Nov. 2 convicted Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. of using excessive force on Zehm and lying to cover up his actions.

Mayor Mary Verner's announcement, coupled with promised change from Mayor-elect David Condon, could bring sweeping change to a department that has resisted reforms pushed by citizens and political leaders for years. Despite assurances from Spokane Police Guild leaders that they welcome a potential federal review, police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick suggested Monday that the union leadership may be uncooperative. The Spokesman-Review said the police controversy likely was a factor in Verner’s election defeat.

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