Thompson Defense: Zehm had previous altercation in 1990

The defense team for Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson is hoping to introduce evidence at his federal trial next month that Otto Zehm had gotten into an altercation with a Spokane County deputy 20 years ago.

An attorney for Karl Thomspon, who stands accused of using excessive force and violating Zehm’s civil rights, say that Zehm had been aggressive toward police before during an encounter in 1990 and he knew what would happen if he resisted arrest again.

In August of 1990 Zehm was stopped by Neil Gallion, who at the time was working as a deputy for the Spokane County Sheriff?s Office. Gallion, now a Spokane Police Detective, said that Zehm was walking along Dishman Mica Road just before sun up and refused to identify himself or explain what he was doing.

Court documents show the deputy grabbed Zehm as he tried to walk away and the two men scuffled in a fight that lasted more than five minutes. Just like Officer Thompson at the convenience store in 2006, Deputy Gallion did not know that he was dealing with a developmentally disabled person.

In both cases Zehm had trouble complying with instructions from law enforcement.

Carl Oreskovich, who is representing Thompson in his federal trial, wants a jury to hear about Zehm?s altercation with then-Deputy Neil Gallion in 1990. The U.S. Attorney?s Office has filed a motion to block Gallion?s testimony however, saying that Zehm?s response in 1990 is not relevant to the current case.

A federal judge has not ruled yet as to whether or not Detective Gallion will testify about the 1990 incident.

Thompson?s trial is expected to get underway next month.