Otto Zehm, a mentally handicapped, 36-year-old unemployed janitor, was beaten to death in a Spokane convenience store in March 2006.
"All I wanted was a Snickers bar," pleaded the battered and bloody man before he was gagged by his assailant.
On November 4, Karl Thompson, the man convicted of killing Zehm, was taken to jail. Several dozen members of Thompson’s gang were gathered outside the courtroom – most of them proudly wearing the colors – to "show their honor" by offering the murderer a public salute. Thompson – whose hands weren’t cuffed, in violation of long-established rules – smiled and returned the gesture. Zehm’s still-grieving mother and several other relatives stood just a few feet away.
The gang in question is the Spokane Police Department, which even now refuses to acknowledge that Thompson – who was a nominee to become Chief at the time he murdered Zehm – ever did anything wrong when he clubbed, tased, and suffocated a terrified, innocent man who did nothing to provoke the attack, and who put up no violent resistance to the assault.
Zehm had done custodial work at Fairchild Air Force Base and was well-known, and equally well-liked, by many people in his neighborhood, some of whom were aware that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was in the daily habit of visiting a convenience store called Zip Trip to purchase junk food – usually Pepsi and a candy bar.
On March 18, 2006, Zehm retrieved some money at an ATM near Zip Trip. Something in his behavior struck two girls as odd, so they called the police. Although there was no reason to believe that Zehm had committed a crime, Thompson entered the store as if he were pursuing a dangerous fugitive. Security video documents that Thompson approached Zehm from behind, while retrieving his custom-made, over-sized ironwood nightstick.