|Thursday, January 17, 2008|
Background: Mentally disabled janitor Otto Zehm died after a confrontation with police at a North Side Zip Trip store in March 2006.
12/31/2006 | The year 2006 was a time of comings and goings for the Inland Northwest, in academia, sports, law enforcement and politics.
12/31/2006 | January
1: Jonathan Wade Ellington runs over and kills Vonette Larson of Athol in an apparent case of road rage that involved chases and gunfire. He is later sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison.
Unlike my willpower and work ethic, the news did not lapse into hibernation during my holiday hiatus.
So ends another rocky year in Spokane. One event after another has shaken our faith in those who are elected or hired to serve and protect us.
12/25/2006 | On this holiday, in this space where readers normally find The Spokesman-Review's editorial viewpoint on events of the day, the staffers who craft those commentaries pause to share these more personal observations.
Spokane Deputy Police Chief Al Odenthal, a 26-year veteran of the force, resigned Tuesday following behind-the-scenes negotiations over his future with the department.
11/7/2006 | Spokane officials are asking for suggestions on items to cram in a time capsule so that the people of the future can crack it open in 25 years and have a good laugh about what a bunch of goons we all were.
11/5/2006 | File this under the category of pigs fly and hell freezes over. I have been asked by the Spokane Police Department to attend a sit-down with Anne Kirkpatrick, the new chief.
11/2/2006 | Spirit Creager, a 34-year-old single father and painter of custom homes, is suing Spokane County OVER a traffic stop where he was repeatedly Tasered.
10/21/2006 | The city of Spokane released the "enhanced" surveillance video Friday in the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm.
10/6/2006 | The good news is that the decision on whether to file criminal charges against police officers in the Otto Zehm case has been postponed. The bad news is that this is the good news.
10/5/2006 | The FBI has found new evidence in the fatal struggle between mentally ill janitor Otto Zehm and seven Spokane police officers, prompting Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker to again delay a decision on possible charges.
• Related story: Review of Zehm probe on hold
10/5/2006 | The independent review ordered by Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession of Otto Zehm's death will have to wait, too.
10/4/2006 | None of the seven Spokane police officers involved in the March 18 fatal confrontation with mentally-ill janitor Otto Zehm will be charged unless Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker gets new evidence from federal investigators.
9/30/2006 | Spokane firefighters are under new orders to no longer use a so-called "anti-spitting" device like the one strapped to the face of Otto Zehm, who died two days after lapsing into unconsciousness during a March 18 convenience store struggle with police.
9/22/2006 | A plastic mask with a dime-size hole apparently did not cause Otto Zehm to stop breathing during his fatal March 18 confrontation with Spokane police officers, the medical examiner has ruled.
8/29/2006 | Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker probably won't decide whether to charge Spokane police officers involved in the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm until Anne Kirkpatrick takes over as police chief next month.
8/4/2006 | The pop bottle has appeared. A video released Thursday shows Otto Zehm had a 2-liter plastic bottle in his hands as he lay on his back in the initial stages of the fatal March 18 confrontation with Spokane police.
• View the video
Quicktime | Windows Media
7/30/2006 | Before the release of the convenience store surveillance tape, before the federal investigation and the bold headlines, before the debate over a pop bottle and missing fingerprints, Otto Zehm liked to play his guitar.
7/28/2006 | The outside investigation into the Spokane Police Department's controversial handling of two high-profile cases will be conducted by a law enforcement service group from Olympia and a Kentucky-based consulting firm.
7/26/2006 | Otto Zehm's fingerprints are not on the plastic soda bottle that police say he used to threaten an officer during the fatal March 18 struggle inside a Spokane convenience store, Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker confirmed Tuesday.
7/25/2006 | Spokane County Medical Examiner Sally Aiken ruled Otto Zehm's death to be a homicide. The technical cause was "hypoxic encephalopathy due to cardio pulmonary arrest while restrained in a prone position for excited delirium."
7/24/2006 | When I was a child, a relative – a distant cousin, or great uncle or someone like that – was killed. He was electrocuted at work.
7/21/2006 | It was wise of Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession to call for an outside investigation into the case of Otto Zehm, who had a fatal encounter on March 18 with seven police officers.
7/19/2006 | The lead detective investigating the fatal encounter between seven police officers and mentally ill janitor Otto Zehm concluded that the first officer on the scene was justified in striking Zehm with his police baton "to pre-empt an anticipated assault."
7/18/2006 | The Spokane County Sheriff's Office apparently couldn't provide the "independent" review that Mayor Dennis Hession now believes is necessary to oversee the investigation into the death of Otto Zehm.
7/18/2006 | A look at the statements Acting Spokane Police Chief Jim Nicks and department spokesman Cpl. Tom Lee made to The Spokesman-Review regarding the March 18 encounter with 36-year-old Otto Zehm inside a Zip Trip at 1712 N. Division.
7/18/2006 | Bowing to public pressure, Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession said Monday he will hire an outside expert to examine the Police Department's handling of two recent scandals that have sparked outrage and renewed calls for civilian oversight.
7/17/2006 | A selection of quotations from people in recent news stories, big and small
7/16/2006 | I have no control over what happens once I turn in my column and it heads off to the press room. So there's a chance that by the time you read this, Jim Nicks has submitted his resignation, admitted he's a disgrace to his blues and skulked off, never to darken our Public Safety Building again.
7/16/2006 | Like a charge from a stun gun, the security video of Otto Zehm's fateful struggle with cops is a searing jolt to the credibility of the Spokane Police Department and anyone who had viewed it before it was finally released to the public.
7/15/2006 | A mentally ill man ends up dead after being suddenly approached by Spokane police officers who wrestle him to the ground, apply handcuffs and leave him on his stomach for several minutes.
7/15/2006 | The Spokane police officers who used their stun guns three times in a fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm on March 18 have used their Tasers 10 other times since 2003, police records show.
7/15/2006 | Even though police have backed away from their earlier version of how the fatal struggle with a mentally ill janitor began, acting Chief Jim Nicks said Friday he still believes officers did nothing wrong.
7/14/2006 | Otto Zehm's life played out violently in a grainy convenience store surveillance video kept from the public for months. The city of Spokane released copies to the media on Thursday, a day after The Spokesman-Review threatened a lawsuit and after Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker agreed to its release.
7/14/2006 | Editor's note: The following is a transcript of a 911 call by a young-sounding woman who reported a suspicious man as she and a female friend used a drive-up ATM at Ruby and Indiana on March 18.
7/14/2006 | The following is a time-compressed account of the police radio traffic on the Otto Zehm response.
7/14/2006 | Acting Spokane Police Chief Jim Nicks acknowledged Thursday that he gave inaccurate information while trying to defend his officers' actions during a fatal struggle with Otto Zehm, the mentally disabled janitor beaten and hogtied by police four months ago.
7/13/2006 | Video footage of the fatal March 18 confrontation between Spokane police and Otto Zehm shows the mentally disabled janitor retreated from a baton-wielding officer before being beaten, according to documents filed by lawyers representing the dead man's mother.
5/9/2006 | About two dozen friends and co-workers of Otto Zehm, who died after struggling with police March 18, remembered him Monday as a "gentle lion. "Spokane police say officers shocked the 35-year-old, mentally disabled janitor twice with a Taser stun gun and struck him with a nightstick when they attempted to question him and he resisted violently.
4/17/2006 | The cause of Otto Zehm's death is still being investigated. But because the mentally disabled janitor died after a scuffle with Spokane police, the city has been thrust into an international controversy over law enforcement use of Tasers, a gunlike electronic shock device.
4/15/2006 | The Spokane Police Department is withholding public records requested by The Spokesman-Review because acting Police Chief Jim Nicks is angry with the newspaper's recent coverage of two high-profile cases.
4/7/2006 | The FBI announced Thursday it erred this week when a spokeswoman disclosed that agents were looking into the death of Otto Zehm, who died following a March 18 scuffle with Spokane Police.
4/6/2006 | The Spokane Police Department for the first time Wednesday said that only two of seven responding police officers used their Tasers against 36-year-old Otto Zehm during a March 18 scuffle.
4/5/2006 | For a man who lived quietly on the margins of this city, Otto Zehm drew a surprisingly large crowd to his memorial on Tuesday. More than 100 mourners – including co-workers, family and friends, some with developmental disabilities – gathered at Mission Park in north Spokane to remember the 36-year-old janitor who died after a scuffle with police officers last month.
4/4/2006 | Nine days after Otto Zehm died after a scuffle with Spokane police, detectives told a judge they needed to seize the mentally ill man's medical records because he was under investigation for allegedly assaulting officers.
3/31/2006 | Security camera footage of a scuffle between police and a developmentally disabled janitor who died two days later will remain hidden from the public under orders from Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker.
3/24/2006 | No one knows yet what killed Otto Zehm, but acting Spokane Police Chief Jim Nicks insisted Thursday it wasn't his officers. "We cannot speculate on the actual cause of death; that is still being investigated by the medical examiner," Nicks said at news conference.
3/22/2006 | Otto Zehm did what he did almost every night and stopped by a Zip Trip to pick up a Diet Pepsi and fast-food for dinner.