11/01/2011

Defense: Wash. officer reacted to threat

Officer Karl Thompson has pleaded not guilty to obstruction and violating the civil rights of 36-year-old Otto Zehm

By Shannon Dininny
Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. — The defense attorney for a Washington police officer accused of using excessive force says the respected veteran of the force reacted to what he thought was a threat.

Officer Karl Thompson has pleaded not guilty to obstruction and violating the civil rights of 36-year-old Otto Zehm. The mentally ill man died two days after a police encounter in a convenience store in 2006.

Prosecutors contend Thompson disgraced his badge by brutally beating a man who posed no threat and lying to investigators about it.

Defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich told the jury in closing arguments Monday that Zehm ignored commands and fought with the officer.

The case has sparked rage in the community, causing the trial to be moved to Yakima.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press

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