Man shot by off-duty Seattle officer disputes police account of incident

The man shot by an off-duty Seattle police officer during a late-night altercation last weekend in Post Alley was a bystander and wasn't involved in the assault that sent the officer to the hospital, according to the wounded man's attorney.

James F. Walker, 52, a Seattle attorney, was identified Tuesday by longtime friend and attorney Mike Frost as the man shot by off-duty Officer Zsolt Dornay early Saturday morning in the Pike Place Market. Walker was listed in satisfactory condition Tuesday at Harborview Medical Center.

Frost said he spoke with Walker about the incident and that Walker's account differs sharply from that offered by police. Detectives had not spoken with Walker as of Tuesday.

Both sides agree that Dornay, who had just finished his shift in the Seattle Police Department's West Precinct, was driving his personal motorcycle down Post Alley early Saturday morning when a series of events occurred that ended with Dornay badly beaten and Walker with three gunshot wounds to the abdomen.

Beyond that, there's plenty the two sides don't agree on.

According to police, a woman apparently became upset that Dornay was driving through Post Alley and knocked over his motorcycle, damaging it. Dornay identified himself as a police officer, police say. Police think Dornay restrained the woman, possibly to place her under arrest. A group of four to six men then attacked Dornay from behind, knocking him to the ground and kicking him in the head and face, police say. Dornay shot one of the men with his service weapon, a .40-caliber Glock.

But Frost, who has hired a private investigator to look into the incident, said that Dornay was revving his engine and driving aggressively in the pedestrian-filled alley when he struck a woman with his motorcycle. The two became involved in an argument, Frost said, and then Dornay threw her against a garage door.

A group of people rushed to her defense, Frost said. Walker, who had just walked out of a Post Alley bar, merely witnessed the confrontation and was not involved. Frost did say Walker knows the woman involved in the altercation with Dornay but would not elaborate on their relationship.

"Jim Walker happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Frost said. "There was no threat at all to Officer Dornay when he shot Jim Walker."

"What is an officer doing shooting an unarmed civilian in a suit?" asked Frost. "What's he even pulling his gun for?"

Unlike the police account, Frost said most of the assault on Dornay occurred after Walker had been shot.

As to whether Dornay identified himself as a police officer, Frost said accounts provided by witnesses differ. He said most did not hear him identify himself.

Seattle homicide detectives investigating the shooting have not yet interviewed Walker because of his medical condition, nor have they spoken to Dornay about what happened that night, said Seattle police spokesman Rich Pruitt. But he still disputed parts of Frost's account.

Asked whether Dornay hit the woman with some part of his motorcycle, Pruitt said, "That's the first I've heard of it."

Dornay fired his gun because he was in real danger, Pruitt said.

"He was fighting for his life," Pruitt said of the 12-year veteran. "Officers arrived and found him in the alley, bloodied," and found Walker lying on the ground.

According to the police report of the incident, an officer at First Avenue and Virginia Street heard approximately six gunshots at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Soon after, numerous people approached to tell the officer there was a man shooting at people in Post Alley near Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, the report says. The officer entered the alley and saw "about four people hovering over" a wounded man and then noticed Dornay, "standing against a wall surrounded by four males," the report says.

"He was bleeding profusely from head and facial wounds" and identified himself as a Seattle police officer. He told the responding officer "that a group of guys were attacking him," the report says.

Walker and Dornay were taken to Harborview Medical Center. Dornay was treated and later released. The woman was arrested, interviewed and released.

None of the men involved in the assault have been arrested, Pruitt said Tuesday. Pruitt would not confirm that Walker was the wounded man, but said police generally do not release the names of suspects.

Jon Fox, a Bellevue attorney who attended law school with Walker at California's Santa Clara University, said Walker is well-regarded by his peers and has an excellent reputation as a defense attorney.

"I've known him for over 25 years. ... He's a gentle person with a strong character," Fox said of Walker, who is married and has an 8-year-old daughter. "It's in Jim's nature to stand up for people who are helpless but he's not violent."

Joe Mullin: 206-464-2761 or