Zehm Family To Settle Lawsuit Out Of Court

SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane will settle a lawsuit with the family of Otto Zehm out of court.

The Zehm family is asking for $2.9 million in damages.

This civil lawsuit has been lingering for two years and both sides are ready to reach an agreement. Mayor David Condon says that resolving this case is a top priority right now.

"We've agreed to go into mediation and this gives us a great opportunity to settle this out of court," Condon said. "I think it's in the best interest of the all of us."

The Zehm family filed the $2.9 million civil lawsuit against the city, claiming Zehm's civil rights were violated. The lawsuit also says the Spokane Police Department falsely protrayed Zehm as the aggressor during the confrontation with police.

In August, Jeffrey Finer, an attorney for the Zehm family, told KXLY4 that they want an apology, a park donated to Otto and new training for police officers.

"So, accountability, a report, [modernize] use of force, training for officers when they are encountering people with mental illness, and ombudsman," Finer said. "That's what we were saying we needed to see."

The city won't reveal details of the mediation until negotiations are final.

"It's been a long-standing case and I think it's good for the community and I think it's good for the police department and for the Zehm family," said Condon.

The next step is for a mediator to be chosen; typically it's a retired judge. Then, the mediation will begin.

No word on how long negotiations are expected to take.

Zehm died following a beating incident with a Spokane police officer in a north Spokane Zip Trip in 2006.

Last year, Officer Karl Thompson was convicted by a federal jury for using excessive force.