Shonto Pete, shot in the head by an off-duty Spokane police officer during a drunken late-night chase, has filed a $750,000 claim against the city of Spokane — a necessary first step in suing the city for what he contends was a violation of his civil rights.
Pete was acquitted of charges in 2007 that he tried to steal Spokane Police Officer Jay Olsen’s truck the night of the incident. Jurors said there was no evidence Pete was ever inside Olsen’s truck.
Pete testified that he’d asked Olsen for a ride home after the bars had closed but was rebuffed. Both men were drunk. Pete said Olsen at first followed him in his truck and then chased him on foot, firing several times as he ran downhill into Peaceful Valley in an effort to escape his pursuer.
In his claim, Pete says he’s had medical expenses of $21,810 for his injuries and has also suffered psychological trauma and lost wages as a result of the shooting.
Olsen faces charges of first degree assault for shooting Pete and reckless endangerment for firing his Glock handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets in the Peaceful Valley neighborhood that night as people slept.
Olsen’s trial, already delayed four times, is now scheduled to start February 17 — nearly two years after the Feb. 26, 2007 incident. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Blake Horwitz, Pete’s Chicago lawyer, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and Olsen early last year. But the required damage claim against the city wasn’t filed until Dec. 22.
In February, the Spokane City Council voted unanimously not to represent Olsen because he was off duty and legally drunk at the time of the shooting. Olsen has pleaded innocent in the criminal case against him and is on unpaid leave from the police department.