Information from the investigation into the shooting death of Vancouver police officer Donald Sahota released this month provides more detail on what transpired after a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy fired upon an off-duty cop.
The investigation, released April 1, features interview and 911 audio as well as aerial surveillance of the Jan. 29 shooting. Footage shows that sheriff’s deputy Jonathan Feller was the first to arrive at Sahota’s Battle Ground home as Sahota and a robbery suspect, Julio Segura, of Yakima, struggled in the driveway.
In an interview, Feller recounted his thoughts and actions during the shooting. On arrival, he said he knew there was a fight and a gun had been dropped.
“I just watched someone pick it up and run toward the house,” Feller said, noting the person matched the last description of the suspect he was given.
Feller commanded Sahota, who he believed was the suspect, to get on the ground, which was overheard by a witnessing officer, according to the investigation. Feller said he believed Sahota was going to kill those in the residence and shot at him to stop the threat.
After he fired, Feller said he saw hands emerge from the door and then Segura appeared. He recalled hearing someone yell “that’s the suspect.”
“And then I realized I hadn’t shot the suspect, I’d shot the homeowner who was an off-duty law enforcement officer,” Feller said tearfully during the interview.
The night’s events
Segura was at Sahota’s residence after a robbery-turned-high-speed chase and manhunt that started off of state Route 503 near Brush Prairie, investigators said.
At about 8:15 p.m. on Jan. 29, an employee at the Chevron gas station at the corner of Northeast 117th Avenue and Northeast 99th Street called to report he had just been robbed. About 10 minutes later, a deputy spotted the suspect vehicle heading northbound on Interstate 205 near Padden Parkway. The vehicle was traveling about 100 mph, according to radio traffic.
Segura merged onto Interstate 5 and took the Northeast 179th Street exit onto Northeast 10th Avenue, turning east onto Northeast 219th Street, otherwise known as state Route 502, according to the investigation.
Segura avoided deployed spike strips, drove into an oncoming lane and crashed, according to the investigation. He then fled on foot in the area of Northeast 219th Street and Northeast 79th Court. Law enforcement set up a containment area and aircraft from the sheriff’s office and Portland police were deployed.
At about 8:50 p.m., responding officers received an updated description of Segura that described him as a “darker-skinned white male” with shaggy hair, who was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with a black undershirt, a hat, a mask and glasses. The investigation stated Sahota had a “tan complexion” and was wearing a dark outer shirt with a white undershirt, jeans and dark socks. During the struggle, Sahota’s outer shirt was pulled up revealing a “significant portion” of the white shirt underneath.
At about that time aerial surveillance identified Segura near Sahota’s residence, infrared video shows Segura walking up to the porch of the house. Minutes later, emergency services received a 911 call about a stranger at a residence in the area.
The caller, Sahota’s wife, was in a different part of the house at the start of the call, she told 911. She said Sahota was an off-duty police officer and was armed.
Aerial footage shows Segura walk away from the front door as Sahota is heard describing Segura as a Latino male on the call. Sahota’s wife then told 911 her husband and Segura were in an “altercation.” Aerial footage showed one of the men, identified as Sahota by his wife, held Segura on the ground and the two struggled. Sahota’s gun dropped during the struggle.
Aerial surveillance shows the struggle end as Segura ran for the door, then Feller’s vehicle arrived. Sahota appears to retrieve the gun he dropped and then go after Segura, attempting to kick the door in, according to the investigation. Feller is seen exiting his vehicle, aiming and shooting four times in a matter of seconds. Three of the shots hit Sahota and one hit the house. Several additional officers then arrived on scene.
Sahota’s wife exited through the garage and was escorted away from the house by officers, according to aerial footage. About a minute after Sahota is shot, Segura is seen exiting through the front door with his hands up before getting on the ground. Officers then move in to detain Segura and assist Sahota.
Segura told investigators he stabbed Sahota three times with a knife. At the time, he believed he had killed Sahota.
Sahota’s autopsy showed he was stabbed in the upper torso and abdomen “causing great bodily harm.” The Clark County Medical Examiner ultimately ruled it was the three shots that killed Sahota.
Though evidence suggested Sahota had fired a shot from his own gun, there were no witnesses or reports that he fired.
Segura told investigators the weapon he used to rob the store was an airsoft gun, which was later located in the woods near the scene.
The investigation was made public after a Clark County Superior Court judge denied a motion to block its release by Segura’s attorneys. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported his defense filed multiple motions in March arguing Segura was a witness to a crime. Information released in the report could violate the Washington Public Records Act, they argued, regardless if the information was already public.
Segura faces several felony charges including murder. Prosecutors argue his actions led to Sahota’s death.
The investigation, led by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, announced it had completed its report March 4, OPB reported. The case is now in prosecutors’ hands to determine whether Feller will face any charges.
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