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Olsen hit with lawsuit in midst of trial

In the midst of his first-degree assault trial, suspended Spokane police officer Jay Olsen has been hit with a new federal lawsuit seeking unspecified monetary damages for shooting Shonto Pete in the head on Feb. 26, 2007.

The civil rights claim re-filed Friday by Pete’s attorney also seeks damages against the city of Spokane for Olsen’s actions.

It claims the city engaged in malicious prosecution for pursuing theft charges against Pete after Olsen accused Pete of stealing his truck and precipitating the incident. A Spokane County Superior Court jury acquitted Pete of the charges in October 2007.

It also claims the city negligently supervised Olsen and is liable for his actions even though Olsen was off-duty and drunk at the time of the incident. The Spokane City Council voted unanimously last year not to pay for Olsen’s defense.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist had no immediate comment on the new litigation.

The lawsuit is a re-do for Chicago attorney Blake Horwitz, who filed a similar complaint in late 2007 but failed to file a required claim against the city. The lawsuit was withdrawn and the $750,000 claim was filed Dec. 22.

The city had 60 days to either pay or reject the claim. That deadline passed last month.

Robert Cossey, Olsen’s attorney, confirmed Monday that Olsen had been served with the new lawsuit but said he hadn’t had a chance to review it.

The state is due to rest today in Olsen’s trial for first-degree assault and reckless endangerment for the drunken encounter in Peaceful Valley. The defense will start to bring its witnesses this afternoon, and Olsen is due to take the stand Tuesday, Cossey said.

Contact Karen Dorn Steele at (509) 459-5462 or karend@spokesman.com.


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