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Shonto Pete

Summary

Shonto Pete in front of an aerial photo of downtown Spokane on March 2, 2009, during the trial of former Spokane Police Officer James “Jay” Olsen, who was drunk and off duty when he chased and shot Pete in the head in February 2007.

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

Key people

  • Jay Olsen

    Former Spokane Police Officer James “Jay” Olsen had been with the department 16 years when, after a night of drinking at a Spokane bar, he chased and shot Shonto Pete in the head on Feb. 26, 2007. Olsen was drunk at the time, and said he had been at a gay bar. In testimony during his trial, he described himself as a closeted gay man who hadn’t shared his secret with his police co-workers or his family. Olsen admitted he violated department policy by drinking while armed with a concealed weapon – his personal Glock pistol – but insisted he was defending himself from Pete, whom Olsen claimed stole his truck. Although a jury acquitted Olsen of first-degree assault and reckless endangerment for shooting Pete, he resigned from the police department prior to his expected dismissal for violating department policy.

  • Shonto Pete

    Shonto Pete survived a bullet wound to the head, and now he’s suing the former Spokane police officer who shot him during a drunken chase in February 2007. He hopes to prevail to help pay medical bills and attorney fees. Pete, a Native American born in Montana, is part Bitterroot Salish and also registered with his father’s Navajo tribe. He attended school in Pablo and after high school graduation went to work as a floor boss at the Northern Quest Casino in Spokane. Pete is married and has a son. He has produced four CDs of Native American drum and dance songs, some of which he posted on YouTube. His nickname on the popular Web site: “Bulletproof.”

Latest updates in this topic


  • Competing versions of police shooting emerge

    Sudden threat – or deadly pursuit? Two competing versions of the February 2007 incident that ended with Shonto Pete shot in the head and assault charges against suspended police officer …


  • Witness saw ‘look of terror’

    The young man pounding on his door at 3:30 a.m., blood streaming from a head wound, appeared “absolutely petrified,” a former Peaceful Valley resident told a Spokane jury Tuesday. Michael …


  • Resident says Pete had a ‘sheer look of terror’

    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.


  • Shot man takes stand as officer’s trial opens

    All he wanted was a ride home. But he ended up getting shot in the head by a mysterious pursuer, Shonto Pete told a Spokane jury Monday in the opening …


  • Pete testifies in Olsen trial

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  • Officer’s shooting trial to begin this week

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  • Olsen trial set to begin Monday

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  • Man shot by off-duty cop files claim against city

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  • Man shot by off-duty cop wants Spokane to pay

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  • City won’t represent officer in shooting

    The city of Spokane will not represent the police officer who was off duty and legally drunk when he chased a man and shot him in the head last year. …


  • Pete, family must wait longer for trials

    Shonto Pete and his family will have to wait a little longer for two trials involving alleged crimes against them. A Montana man’s plea on charges he murdered Pete’s sister, …


  • Pete found not guilty

    Shonto Pete, shot in the head in a dispute with an off-duty police officer, was found not guilty by a Spokane County Superior Court jury of stealing the truck of …


  • Trials weigh on mother

    Two family calamities 250 miles apart have burdened Diana Cote’s life. Shonto Pete, her 28-year-old fourth child, is standing trial in Spokane County Superior Court for allegedly stealing a police …


  • Pete, accused of theft, says he sought ride

    Shonto Pete, the man shot in the head last February by an off-duty Spokane cop, took the stand Tuesday in his trial for second-degree auto theft – denying he stole …


  • Officer takes Fifth in Pete trial

    Suspended Spokane police Officer James “Jay” Olsen has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the trial of Shonto Pete, the man Olsen accused of taking his truck before …


  • Lawyers spar over Pete interview

    Shonto K. Pete was shot in the head by an off-duty Spokane police officer in the early hours of Feb. 26 after a confrontation that started outside a downtown bar …


  • Car theft charge will go to trial

    A judge Thursday denied a motion to dismiss the car theft charge against Shonto K. Pete stemming from an incident earlier this year in which Pete was shot in the …


  • Kirkpatrick discusses Peaceful Valley issues

    Peaceful Valley residents weren’t the only ones awakened by gunshots in the middle of the night Feb. 26 – so was Spokane’s chief of police. From her apartment on Riverside …


  • Olsen pleads not guilty in off-duty shooting

    Spokane police Officer James “Jay” Olsen pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three charges relating to the Feb. 26 shooting of 27-year-old Shonto Pete. Olsen, 43, offered no comment as Superior …


  • Officer in shooting didn’t seek help via phone

    Spokane police Officer James “Jay” Olsen was not only packing his personal gun while drinking in a bar into the early hours of Feb. 26; he also had his cell …


  • Area police shootings since 2001

    Spokane law enforcement officers have been involved in 17 shootings since 2001. With the exception of a shooting by off-duty Spokane police Officer James “Jay” Olsen earlier this year and …


  • Suspect denies taking pickup

    The man shot in the head after allegedly stealing an off-duty police officer’s pickup pleaded innocent Wednesday to second-degree vehicle theft. Shonto K. Pete’s attorney argued during the arraignment that …


  • In brief: Officer released after posting bail

    The Spokane police officer charged with shooting a man in the head was released from jail Monday night after he posted bail. James Jay Olsen, 43, posted $25,000 and was …


  • Judge trims bail for officer, alleged shooting victim

    A Spokane police officer remained in jail Monday night despite a reduction in his bail on charges that he drunkenly shot a man who allegedly stole his pickup. Spokane County …


  • Officer in shooting, victim remain in jail

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  • In brief: Man shot by cop begins DUI term

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  • Lawyer: Man shot by officer had back turned

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