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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Protect your head for when cops lose theirs

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

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 – can be filed under two categories.

1. Purple-faced anger and …

2. What the “BLEEP!?!” disbelief.

Then we have Lee, a 47-year-old North Side Spokane resident, who took a more subtle approach, thanks to a diabolically creative mind.

Lee, by the way, doesn’t want his full name in the paper because of fears of reprisal. Whatever. I’m more interested in what came out of his disgust with the aforementioned verdict.

And that is the Shonto Pete Bulletproof Hat.

You heard me.

Not sold in any stores. Not seen on TV.

If you want to own this one-of-a-kind object you must bid for it on eBay.

( Just do an eBay search for Shonto Pete.)

“It’s up to $22.50,” said Lee, when I spoke to him on the phone Monday morning.

Lee views the auction as a benefit. He hopes that as word spreads the bidding will rise. Whatever he makes will go to Pete, he added.

So how does a thing like this happen?

Lee said he was taking a walk Saturday and brooding about the Olsen decision. Suddenly, that fabled light bulb of inspiration clicked on.

“I have a lot of ideas,” he explained.

Lee set about building his hat. He snapped photographs of his son modeling it. He wrote some sales copy. Then he put the whole shebang on eBay as a satirical swipe at what passes for Lilac City justice.

Get a load of some of the text Lee wrote in describing his unusual product. (I did a little editing to clean up the grammar and spelling.)

“This is a heavy steel hat suitable for wearing around the Spokane streets. This hat has a removable bill to allow better vision at night.

“For instance, if you are running from a drunk policeman with a gun at night, your field of vision is better with the removable bill off.

“But if you are roaming around town, say, at Pig Out in the Park, and a drunk policeman starts chasing you, you may find it beneficial to use the removable bill to reduce sun glare.

“You could buy the bulletproof hat and donate it to the MAC museum or possibly start a Dark Side of Spokane Museum.

“… Free shipping in Spokane only.”

Warning: I make no guarantees as to how bulletproof this hat actually may be. If it were me, I’d take the extra precaution and install a Kevlar lining.

But whoever winds up with it will unquestionably be on the cutting edge of self-defense fashion.

To recap: Olsen, who had been drinking with a friend at a downtown bar, fired five shots at Pete on a steep embankment near Peaceful Valley.

He claimed he shot at Pete because the man made two moves as if to brandish a weapon.

Olsen also claimed Pete started the chase by stealing his pickup. Pete, who denies ever being an aggressor, was acquitted of that crime in a previous trial.

One thing is clear. This verdict is as unpopular as verdicts get around here.

“The cops in this town are nothing but a bunch of Chicago thugs,” said Brad in a message to me.

“I’m nauseated by the whole thing,” said Reed in another.

Lee termed the verdict “a slap in the face.”

And on and on …

Out of all the calls I received, I thought Nicholas had the most novel idea.

“I’d like to recommend that the city of Spokane make (Olsen) the new police ombudsman,” he said.

“That way he can oversee the Police Department. And they can all look to him as to what they can get away with.”

Doug Clark is a columnist with The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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