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, as Olsen had alleged. Jurors said there was no evidence Pete was ever inside Olsen’s truck.
Pete testified that he asked Olsen for a ride home after the bars had closed but was rebuffed. Both men were drunk. Pete said Olsen 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.
Olsen has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree assault for shooting Pete and reckless endangerment for firing his Glock handgun in the Peaceful Valley neighborhood that night as people slept.
In his claim, Pete says he’s had medical expenses of $21,810 for his injuries and has suffered psychological trauma and lost wages as a result of the shooting.
Olsen’s trial, already delayed four times, is scheduled to start Feb. 17 – nearly two years after the Feb. 26, 2007, incident. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Blake Horwitz, Pete’s lawyer, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and Olsen in late 2007, which was dismissed in August but could still be refiled. The damage claim against the city was filed Dec. 22. The city has 60 days to either pay or reject the claim.
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 is on unpaid layoff status from the Spokane Police Department.