Olsen Not Guilty On All Charges
SPOKANE — He admitted he made a series of mistakes that probably cost him his career in law enforcement, and on Friday a jury found Jay Olsen not guilty on all charges.
Olsen, the suspended Spokane Police Officer facing a handful of charges related to an off-duty shooting two years ago this February, was exonerated by the jury after his claims that he felt his life was in danger and that the man he was following was about to cause him serious bodily harm.
The turning point in the case came late this week when Jay Olsen took to the witness stand and and took responsibility for drinking and driving, patronizing a downtown club with a loaded handgun which is against department policy, and admitted it had been ill-advised to chase Shonto Pete after Olsen claims he stole his truck.
Olsen, when asked why he had taken the time to contact his attorney and Police Guild president Ernie Wuthrich but never called 9-1-1 to ask for backup, claimed that he was serving in silence as a gay member of the police force.
“The things that are going through my head are I had this as a secret in my department for 16 years. Some of my co-workers don’t know, don’t know what, don’t know that I’m gay. My brother who’s also a police officer didn’t know I was gay until two days ago,” Olsen said.
Prosecutors had pointed out in their arguments that Olsen’s decision not to call 9-1-1 was his attempt to avoid drawing attention to his actions and that he put his fellow officers at risk by not letting them know what they were walking into when they arrived in Peaceful Valley the night of the shooting in February of 2007.
Shonto Pete, who was in the courtroom Friday, was upset when he heard Olsen’s verdict. Pete, who was hit with a grazing bullet wound fired by Officer Olsen, was
previously cleared of stealing Olsen’s truck.
“I thought it would be guilty because he’s guilty,” Pete said. “You can’t shoot someone in the head and get away with it. He should have at least got reckless endangerment.”
After the jury read their verdict they were sent back into chambers to deliberate whether or not Olsen’s actions constituted self-defense. A short time later they came back and found that Olsen had acted in self-defense. Now the county will have to pay for all of Olsen’s legal fees associated with this case.
Following his not guilty verdict on all charges the Spokane Police Department changed his status from suspended to paid administrative leave. As such he will be paid all back pay for the last two years and will also be paid the average of all overtime he would have accumulated during that time.
With Olsen not guilty on all charges its not clear what his future with the Spokane Police Department is, though his breaking of departmental policy by bringing a loaded handgun into a nightclub remains to be resolved.
A police department internal affairs investigation, which has been on hold during the criminal proceedings, now will most likely begin to determine whether or not Olsen violated departmental policy.
While that IA investigation will now likely begin, Olsen himself said on the stand earlier this week that his actions the night of the shooting likely ended his career in law enforcement.
“It looks like Rob Cossey is the only winner in all this,” Pete grumbled, referring to defense Olsen’s attorney.
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