Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Last month, the city of Spokane settled with the relatives of Otto Zehm, a man who died in 2006 after an encounter with Spokane police. As part of the settlement agreement — which resolves a federal civil rights suit filed by Zehm's relatives in 2009 — Spokane Mayor David Condon agreed to personally write a letter of apology to Ann Zehm, Otto Zehm's mother.
The Inlander obtained a copy of the handwritten note Condon wrote and delivered to Ann Zehm. You can download it here (PDF). There are minor differences between the handwritten version of the letter and a typed version that accompanied it.
The text of the typed version of the letter is below:
Dear Mrs. Zehm,
I very much regret, and I sincerely apologize for, the death of your son, Otto. I understand that Otto was a loving and supportive son who enjoyed his work and enjoyed spending time with you, other family members, and friends. His death is a loss not only for you, but also for our entire community.
You, and our community, waited for too long for a resolution in this matter. For me, blame was clearly misplaced in this case, and I fear that compounded the pain for you and many others.
I cannot change the past, but I can ensure a better future. Since Otto's death, the City has committed to instituting procedures to protect citizens like Otto.
In addition, to honor Otto'z memory, I will recommend to the Park Board that it name a pavilion for Otto and place a plaque stating that the pavilion is offered: "In Memory of Otto Zehm."
Again, please accept our profound apologies for the loss of your son.
David A. Condon