Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CITY HALL EYEBALL: Drive drunk. Hit a car. Get $275,000

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Drive drunk. Hit a car. Flee accident scene. Lose job. File lawsuits. Get rehired. Collect $275,000 in back pay.

It's a storyline rankling citizens and civic leaders in the wake of a settlement proposal for former Spokane Police Officer Brad Thoma. Under the settlement, Thoma, who hit another car while driving drunk and then fled the accident scene, would rejoin the force and collect $275,000 in back pay.

Three Spokane City Council members today said they're not sure whether to vote for the agreement.

"I have not decided but I have some serious reservations on the message we're sending," Councilman Mike Allen told The Inlander this afternoon. "I would expect the public to hold me accountable if I committed a crime of that nature."

"Most of us can't get in a situation where we have a DUI mixed with a hit-and-run and still have a reasonable explanation to keep our job," said Councilman Jon Snyder. "That's a real dereliction of duty in my book."

"If the vote were held right now, I'd be voting against it," Council President Ben Stuckart told The Inlander late Wednesday afternoon.

The City Council offices today received 70 calls concerning the settlement, according to Stuckart: every one of them against the settlement.

Stuckart said he spent much of Wednesday in meetings trying to determine what kind of financial impact a "no" vote may have on the city. The Monday council vote would settle three separate actions against the city: one by Thoma, one by the police guild and one by the state Human rights Commission.

By Wednesday afternoon, heartburn of the possible deal continued to rise. Mayor David Condon released a statement blasting the proposal."This settlement is an example of seemingly special treatment enjoyed by a police officer to the frustration of the citizens who employ him," read Condon's statement.

And the Spokesman-Review tweeted late Wednesday afternoon that the "Human Rights Commission [was] distancing itself from #Spokane's plan to rehire DUI cop who fled scene of crash."

Spokane Police Guild President Ernie Wuthrich did not immediately return calls seeking comment. 

Stay tuned for more updates. 

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