Arrow-right Camera


Judge trims bail for officer, alleged shooting victim

Tue., April 17, 2007

A Spokane police officer remained in jail Monday night despite a reduction in his bail on charges that he drunkenly shot a man who allegedly stole his pickup.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price reduced Officer James Jay Olsen’s $100,000 bail to $25,000 at a preliminary hearing Monday. Olsen had been in the county jail since Friday, when he was arrested and charged with first-degree assault and two counts of reckless endangerment.

Olsen, 43, is to enter his plea next Tuesday. His alleged victim, 27-year-old Shonto K. Pete II, is to be arraigned Wednesday on a charge of second-degree vehicle theft.

Price rejected Pete’s motion to dismiss the charge for lack of physical evidence showing that Pete did more than look inside Olsen’s truck. His attorney argued that “the only evidence supporting the charge is the statement of the man who shot him.”

Price said the charge was valid, but he reduced Pete’s bail from $15,000 to $10,000. Pete remained in custody at the Geiger Corrections Center on Monday night.

He is to enter his plea Wednesday.

Pete had been free, with electronic alcohol monitoring, on a drunken-driving conviction when he allegedly stole Olsen’s idling and unoccupied pickup outside a downtown bar on Feb. 26. Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Hughes said Pete had a blood-alcohol level approaching 0.25 percent – three times the legal threshold for intoxication – even though he was wearing one of Geiger’s Sobrietor alcohol-detection monitors on his ankle.

Olsen also was legally drunk when he chased Pete in a friend’s car and shot him in the head after Pete abandoned Olsen’s truck and fled into Peaceful Valley on foot, according to court documents. Pete took refuge in a home. He later recovered from the gunshot after doctors removed a .40-caliber bullet from his head.

Sheriff’s detectives said one of several rounds Olsen fired from a personal weapon lodged inside an unoccupied home and the occupant of another home was endangered.

Olsen’s attorney, Rob Cossey, argued that Olsen’s bail should be no more than $10,000. Cossey said Olsen has lived in Spokane most of his life, has been on the police force for 16 years and has a brother on the force, Sgt. Eric Olsen.

Both defendants, Pete and Olsen, wore jail jumpsuits during their bail hearing on a closed-circuit television link between Price’s courtroom and the jail.

Olsen’s paid leave was converted to unpaid layoff status when he was arrested. A pending internal affairs investigation could lead to his dismissal.

Click here to comment on this story »