Spokane removed from Shonto Pete lawsuit - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Thomas Clouse | Spokesman-Review

Spokane removed from Shonto Pete lawsuit

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Thomas Clouse | The Spokesman-Review

A federal judge ruled this morning that the city of Spokane will not be on the hook if a civil suit proceeds against former Spokane Police Officer James "Jay" Olsen, who shot Shonto Pete in the head during a drunken chase in February 2007.

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. O'Hara argued that Olsen was off duty at the time and never identified himself as a police officer during the Feb. 26, 2007, chase that ended with Olsen shooting Pete in the head.

"I have great sympathy for Mr. Pete and the grievous wrong that Mr. Olsen did to him," Shea said. "Nevertheless, I grant the city's motion … Mr. Olsen was not acting under the color of law."

In December 2009, Pete filed a $750,000 claim against the city, citing a violation of his civil rights. A jury acquitted Pete, 30, of criminal charges that he stole Olsen's truck. And a year ago, a Spokane jury acquitted Olsen of first-degree assault and reckless endangerment in connection to the shooting.

More information at Spokesman.com

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