March 3, 2009 in City

Resident says Pete had a ‘sheer look of terror’

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Shonto Pete holds a pointer and stands in front of a large aerial photo of downtown Spokane on Monday, March 2, 2009, in the trial of suspended Spokane police Officer Jay Olsen.
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The young man pounding on his door at 3:30 a.m. with blood streaming from a head wound was “absolutely petrified,” a former Peaceful Valley resident told a Spokane jury Tuesday.

Michael Dale testified for the state in the trial of suspended Spokane police Officer Jay Olsen – charged with first-degree assault and reckless endangerment in the shooting of Shonto Pete and the discharge of four more bullets near a cluster of houses in the old neighborhood on Feb. 26, 2007.

Dale, who now lives in the Seattle area, said his companion Carol Blackburn woke him up when she heard loud banging on their door at 1421 W. Clark Ave. Pete stood on the porch, with a “sheer look of terror” on his face, Dale said.

His first instinct was to grab Pete and yank him inside.

“I was afraid of the homicidal person out in the dark … He might start shooting at all of us,” Dale said.

The couple gave Pete a clean washrag and told him to sit down on their couch. Pete said he’d been asking for a ride home and “somebody had pulled a gun and decided to shoot him.”

They called the police, and Pete called his wife. About 15 minutes later, the police arrived.

Dale said he didn’t approve of what happened next.

The police treated Pete as a suspect and kept paramedics away as they secured the area, Dale said.

“They interrogated him. I thought it wasn’t right at the time – he was a victim,” he added.

Dale estimated that an ambulance wasn’t allowed to approach the house until about half an hour later.

Under cross-examination, Olsen’s attorney Rob Cossey asked a series of questions about what Pete told Spokane Police Department senior patrol officer Derek Bishop when he arrived at Dale’s house.

Bishop said Pete told him he’d been walking on a Riverside Avenue sidewalk above Peaceful Valley when someone in a truck shot him, Bishop said.

That story is at odds with what Pete later told police – that Olsen shot him as he was running down a steep bluff below Riverside into Peaceful Valley.

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz asked Bishop whether all gunshot victims give accurate testimony of what they’d just been through.

“Peoples’ memory is not always accurate based on the shock of the situation,” Bishop replied.

Cossey pressed on, asking Bishop whether Pete was being vague.

“To me, it seemed he was being very vague. In my experience, there’s not too many shootings for no reason,” Bishop said.

Spokane Police Detective Marvin “Marty” Hill said he was called out on the shooting to the Public Safety Building early that morning.

Olsen had been brought back to the Major Crimes unit, where he was leaning back in a secretary’s chair, apparently sleeping, Hill said.

“I smelled a strong odor of intoxicant as I entered the room,” Hill said. Court documents say Pete and Olsen both had been drinking heavily.

Hill showed the jurors photos of Olsen taken that night. The off-duty officer was wearing a red hooded jacket, a T-shirt and jeans.

Another police officer, Spokane Police Department Sgt. Joel Fertakis, told the jury Monday that, as he was responding to the shooting, a man in a red hooded jacket he later recognized as Olsen passed him on Main Avenue without identifying himself.

Contact Karen Dorn Steele at 459-5462 or karend@spokesman.com.


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