Spokane City Council Approves Zehm Death Settlement

May 23, 2012

The Spokane City Council Monday night voted unanimously to approve a $1.67 million settlement between Otto Zehm’s family and the city. Paige Browning reports.

It has been six years and two months since Otto Zehm died. Council member Jon Snyder says he wishes resolution would have come sooner.

Snyder: “But unfortunately this is a very complicated criminal justice piece of machinery that’s still not done. The case is not over yet, the criminal justice case, that’s something we have no purview over, that we’re spectators on.”

The Zehm family, attorney’s, and city of Spokane representatives reached a settlement in mediation last week. After the Council’s approval, the family will receive a monetary settlement as well as a letter of apology. Council President Stuckart called for the resolution to be read in their meeting.

The lawsuit originally sought $14 million in damages after Zehm was beaten and shocked with a Tazer gun by police, and eventually died from the injuries. Council member Nancy McLaughlin said she hopes the settlement and police training will prevent things like this from happening again.

McLaughlin: “I never met Otto Zehm, but I feel like I know him… this his has been a long and not a fun process to go through. I know that he was an innocent victim of tragic circumstances. As a mother of three children, my heart goes out to Mrs. Zehm.”

With the resolution, the city will pay $720,000, and the city’s insurance carrier AIG will pay the rest. Zehm was fatally injured by police in 2006 after he was wrongly suspected of stealing from an ATM.

Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio