Officer Olsen pleads not guilty to off-duty shooting charges - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Officer Olsen pleads not guilty to off-duty shooting charges

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane police officer Jay Olsen has pleaded not guilty to one charge of 1st-degree assault and two counts of reckless endangerment. The charges stem from a February 26th incident when Olsen shot Shonto Pete while off duty.

The shooting victim, 27-year-old Shonto K. Pete, was also charged in connection with the shooting. He was charged by warrant with Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Owner's Permission, a felony.

Sheriff's detectives began tracking Pete as soon as his felony warrant was authorized and signed about mid-afternoon Friday. His arrest came about 45 minutes after Olsen's.

Olsen and a female acquaintance were leaving Dempsey's Brass Rail in downtown Spokane about 2:30 a.m. that morning, and were seated in her car while the 43-year-old officer's pickup was left running to warm up.

Detectives believe Pete stole the truck and was followed by Olsen and the woman in her car.  When the truck was abandoned west of Monroe on Riverside Avenue, Olsen chased Pete down over an embankment that leads to Peaceful Valley.

Olsen fired five shots at Pete as the he fled, one of the bullets striking him in the head.

Chief Anne Kirkpatrick placed Olsen on unpaid layoff status, stopping his pay and benefits. Olsen faces an administrative process to determine whether he will be fired.

The First-Degree Assault charge is based on the shooting and wounding of Pete. The Reckless Endangerment counts are based on Officer Olsen firing in the direction of occupied homes, and striking one.

According to police, Jay Olsen, a 16-year veteran of the force, was leaving a downtown bar when he spotted a man stealing his pickup truck. Initial reports say that he and a friend pursued the vehicle from Dempsey's to the scene of the shooting on W. Pacific Avenue where a fight occurred.

Documents say Olsen told an investigator he feared for his life after Pete threatened to kill him and made a motion that suggested that he had a weapon in his hand. Pete and his attorney deny that claim, saying Pete was simply asking the officer and his female companion for a ride.

Pete's lawyer has claimed his client wasn't trying to steal anything. David Partovi said his client looked inside the officer's running pickup truck, but walked away. That's when the officer began chasing him, eventually shooting him.

Pete said he was "running for his life" when Officer Jay Olsen was firing shots at him. He was released from the hospital with visible stitches in his head where the .40 caliber bullet was lodged in his skull.

Kirkpatrick said the gun the officer used in the shooting did not belong to the police department. It was not clear how that fact would affect the investigation - if at all.  What has played a major role, however, is the fact that the shooting happened after the officer had been at a bar.

Detectives with the Sheriff's Office investigated what part alcohol may have played in the incident. The investigation has been headed up by the Sheriff's Office, but shadowed by detectives within the police department.

Since the shooting, Officer Olsen's conduct has been called into question. Spokane city released letters and documents from the public and different public agencies, shedding new light on Olsen's past conduct.

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