"OFFICE THOMPSON CONVICTED FOR BEATING OTTO ZEHM"
Spokane – Today, Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced the jury's guilty verdicts in the excessive force and falsification trial against Karl F. Thompson, Jr., age 64.
The Indictment charged Karl Thompson, a Spokane Police officer, with the deprivation of Otto Zehm's civil rights on March 18, 2006, by repeatedly striking him with a baton and tasering him, resulting in bodily injury. The Indictment also charged Karl Thompson with making a false entry in a record in a matter investigated by a federal agency. The jury trial began in Yakima on October 12, 2011, and concluded today with the jury's verdict.
Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, "Law enforcement officers are entrusted with important power and authority. With that authority comes the responsibility not to abuse essential constitutional rights of those they serve, to be honest in the reports they make, and not block legitimate efforts to investigate allegations of excessive force. It was very important for this community to have the events of March 18, 2006, revealed to the public and to seek justice for the innocent victim of this abusive police conduct."
The civil rights charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, up to 3 years of court supervision after release and restitution. The falsification of records in a matter investigated by a federal agency carries a maximum penalty of twenty years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of court supervision after release.
The federal civil rights statutes prohibit intentional acts by law enforcement officials who misuse their positions to unlawfully deprive individuals of constitutional rights, such as the right to be free from unwarranted assaults, illegal arrests and searches. Because almost any matter which presents a violation of federal law is also a matter involving a local or state law violation, deference is given to local prosecutions. But where there is no local action or where the results of the state or local proceedings are insufficient to vindicate federal interests, a federal prosecution may be brought.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Timothy Durkin and Aine Ahmed, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington and Victor Boutros, Trial Attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.