It was to be a potluck two weeks before he was sentenced, but now that party, to be hosted by Spokane police officers in honor of convicted former police officer Karl Thompson, has been cancelled.
Thompson was convicted of violating Otto Zehm's civil rights during a confrontation inside a Zip Trip convenience store in March of 2006. He's scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 15, but two weeks before that, on Nov. 3, his former co-workers were planning to host "An Evening With Karl."
Why was it cancelled? The hosts realized this private going away birthday party for Thompson was inadvertently sending the public the wrong message.
How did invitees find out? The party invitation was left in most of the mailboxes on the police department side of the Public Safety Building.
The hosts say despite his convictions, Thompson devoted 26 years of his life to the department and there are a lot of people, many who consider him a father figure, a chance to say goodbye.
Their loyalty may have also put them in direct conflict with a departmental policy that states, "except in the case of immediate relatives, employees shall not develop or maintain personal or financial relationships with any individuals they know is a convicted felon."
However when you look at the definition of what a personal relationship is the policy really more precludes you from dating or living with a convicted felon.
The two hosts, who are both police officers, say Thomspon is like family to them and have been at Thompson's side throughout his court appearances. They say this was not an event sanctioned by the department and something they expected to occur in the privacy of their own home
Police Chief Frank Straub apparently did not know about the party when he made this comments about the Otto Zehm case on Monday.
"This department has learned a whole bunch of lessons from that. At some point in time we're going to have to say it happened. It was a horrific experience that should have never happened but now we have all to move on and police are going to need the community and the community is going to need the police to make that happen," he said.
While some might argue this party for Karl Thompson was the department's way to move on but it also has the potential to send the community the wrong message and that's why late Friday afternoon it was cancelled.