March 1, 2007 in City

Signs of shooting detailed

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Photos by Jed Conklin photo

Nichole Burrell leaves her home at 17 N. Cedar St in Peaceful Valley on Wednesday as the muddy handprints of a man who banged on her door early Monday morning are still visible. The man, Shonto K. Pete, was at the door searching for help after he had been shot in the head by off-duty Spokane police Officer James Olsen.
(Full-size photo)

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The only weapon carried by a man shot in the head by an off-duty Spokane police officer was a keychain-size pocket knife, Peaceful Valley residents said Wednesday.

And it was still in Shonto K. Pete’s pocket when a 911 operator asked him if he was armed, the residents said.

According to federal law, a police officer is supposed to use deadly force only if he fears his life or the lives of others are in danger.

Pete was shot by Spokane police Officer James “Jay” Olsen early Monday. Olsen claims he saw the 27-year-old steal his truck from outside a downtown bar where the officer had been at an Academy Awards party.

But Pete’s attorney, Dave Partovi, says his client only asked the officer for a ride.

Authorities say the truck was abandoned in the 1200 block of West Riverside where Olsen chased Pete down an embankment and fired his gun at the man several times. After Olsen started pursuing Pete on foot, the truck was moved to the 1200 block of West Main Avenue, apparently by a woman who was with Olsen.

Michael Dale and Carol Blackburn were awakened by Pete pounding at their door , asking for help.

“He feared for his life,” Dale said.

“We brought him in,” said Blackburn. “He was covered in blood.”

The housemates called 911, and let Pete talk to the operator.

Sheriff’s detectives interviewed Olsen Wednesday morning, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dave Reagan. But no new information regarding the shooting was made available Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Office is conducting the investigation into the incident.

Investigators have searched Olsen’s truck and checked it for fingerprints, officials said. Pete has not been charged with a crime.

On Wednesday, Dale and Blackburn spoke with another Peaceful Valley resident, 38-year-old Nichole Burrell, about what happened early Monday.

Burrell was out of town when the shooting occurred. But when she came home Tuesday night, she was surprised to find a bullet on her kitchen floor.

Burrell called 911 right away, she said.

When she looked further, she noticed the bullet had pierced the outside wall of her home and shattered a leg on her kitchen island just a few inches away from where she frequently sits.

“I would have freaked out if I’d been here,” said Burrell, who lives on North Cedar Street at the bottom of the embankment.

Just as frightening as the bullet in her home, she said, were bloody handprints on her screen door.

She thinks her house was the first one where Pete attempted to get help. His handprint was also on her window screen, and his blood was on the mailbox.

“I feel bad I wasn’t here to help him,” she said.

According to police, Pete tried to get help at a house on Cedar before going to Dale and Blackburn’s home around the corner.

As the wounded man sat on the housemates’ couch waiting for the fire department he kept saying: “All I wanted was a ride home,” Blackburn said. Four police officers arrived, followed by paramedics.

“He had a hole in the side of his head,” Blackburn said.

Pete was released from a downtown hospital on Tuesday. Blackburn and Dale said he called and thanked them for their help.

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