Shonto Pete filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a former Spokane police officer for shooting him in the head during a drunken chase in early 2007. Federal Judge Edward Shea dismissed the suit on March 2, 2011, after Pete was unable to find an attorney to represent him in the case.
Pete had also wanted to sue the city of Spokane, but Shea ruled March 12, 2010, that the city could not be held liable for the actions of James “Jay” Olsen, who was off-duty and drunk when he fired at Pete several times in Peaceful Valley. Pete was shot in the head; the bullet lodged in his scalp.
Olsen, who was a 16-year veteran of the Spokane Police Department, was charged with first-degree assault and two counts of reckless endangerment for shooting Pete on Feb. 26, 2007. After his jury trial was postponed five times, Olsen was acquitted in March 2009. The city had to pay him $153,000 for the time he was placed on unpaid layoff status following his arrest.
Olsen resigned from the police department in April 2009, shortly before he was to meet with Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to discuss her decision to fire him from the force for departmental violations stemming from the shooting, including conduct unbecoming an officer and making an untruthful statement during a criminal investigation.
Olsen accused Pete of driving away in his truck after the bars closed in downtown Spokane. A jury in October 2007 acquitted Pete of criminal charges that he stole Olsen’s truck.
Pete said he’d asked Olsen for a ride and was rebuffed, and that Olsen started following him in the truck as Pete fled on foot. Olsen told investigators he feared for his life because he thought Pete had a gun.
In December 2009, Pete filed a $750,000 claim against the city, citing a violation of his civil rights. Federal judge Edward F. Shea ruled in favor of a motion brought by Assistant City Attorney Ellen O’Hara seeking to sever the city from the case.
Pete said he has about $20,000 in medical bills and $18,000 in attorney fees he must pay.
Summary written by Scott Maben
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Latest updates in this topic
Civil suit dismissed against former officer in shooting
March 3, 2011 in City on Page A8 Former Spokane Police Officer James “Jay” Olsen, who was exonerated two years ago of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting of a fleeing, unarmed man, now will avoid any civil responsibility … 49
Civil suit against former SPD officer dismissed
March 2, 2011 in City Former Spokane Police Officer James “Jay” Olsen won’t face any civil penalties for shooting a fleeing, unarmed man in the head in 2007. U.S. District Court Judge Edward F. Shea … 42
Defense lawyers claim overkill on Hoopfest charges
Aug. 4, 2010 in City Defense attorneys told a judge today that prosecutors don’t have a legal basis for a long list of attempted murder charges levied against three of four men in connection with … 10
Doug Clark: Off-duty ruling’s a real cop-out
City out of shooting case
March 13, 2010 in City on Page A1 A federal judge ruled Friday that the city of Spokane will not pay any civil penalties levied against former Spokane Police Officer James “Jay” Olsen, who shot Shonto Pete in … 6
Spokane removed from Shonto Pete lawsuit
Protesters call for police oversight
June 26, 2009 in City on Page A7 More than 100 people gathered in front of Spokane City Hall on Thursday evening to rally for police accountability and changes to an oversight process they see as flawed. Carrying … 2
Protesters rally for police accountability
Olsen won’t face more charges
May 7, 2009 in City on Page A6 Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said Wednesday that she decided against asking prosecutors to consider misdemeanor charges against former Officer Jay Olsen for trying to talk to a judge about … 7
No impersonation charges expected against Olsen
May 6, 2009 in City Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said Wednesday that she decided against asking prosecutors to consider misdemeanor charges against former Officer Jay Olsen for trying to talk to a judge about …
Report clears dispatcher in Pete shooting
May 2, 2009 in City on Page A1 An internal investigation has cleared a Spokane police dispatcher of wrongdoing after questions arose over the truthfulness of his testimony in the acquittal of an off-duty officer who shot a … 15
Olsen incidents could have led to criminal charges
April 15, 2009 in City on Page A5 The Spokane Police Department’s internal investigation into former Officer Jay Olsen shows that officials could have charged him with a crime a year before his trial, because he tried to … 5
Olsen flashed badge to try to see judge
April 14, 2009 in City The Spokane Police Department’s internal investigation into former Officer Jay Olsen shows that officials could have charged him with a crime a year before his trial, because he tried to … 12
Officer Olsen quits on brink of firing
April 14, 2009 in City on Page A1 Suspended Spokane police Officer Jay Olsen, acquitted by a jury last month for shooting a man in the head during a drunken off-duty chase through Peaceful Valley two years ago, … 17
Jay Olsen resigns from Spokane Police Department
April 13, 2009 in City Suspended Spokane Police Officer Jay Olsen, acquitted by a jury last month for shooting a man in the head during a drunken off-duty chase through Peaceful Valley, resigned Monday. The … 7
Native Americans air concerns over verdict
March 25, 2009 in City on Page A1 Native Americans confronted city officials on Tuesday evening with their frustration over the acquittal of an off-duty Spokane police officer who shot a young American Indian man. Mayor Mary Verner … 13
In Olsen case, responsibility lies with prosecutor
Caller disputes 911 testimony
March 18, 2009 in City on Page A1 Two people who helped a bleeding Shonto Pete after shots rang out in Peaceful Valley and called 911 at Pete’s request are challenging a police dispatcher’s testimony last week in … 15
Doug Clark: Protect your head for when cops lose theirs
March 17, 2009 in City on Page A5 The responses I’m receiving about last Friday’s acquittal of Jay Olsen – the boozed-up off-duty cop who shot Shonto Pete in the head after a wild chase two years ago … 5
Police launch Olsen inquiry
March 17, 2009 in City on Page A1 The Spokane Police Department has launched its internal investigation of suspended officer Jay Olsen amid public outrage over Friday’s jury verdict that acquitted Olsen of shooting a man in the … 17