PORTLAND — The partner of the man fatally shot by Clark County sheriff’s deputies in October provided a detailed account Friday of what she saw and heard in the moments before Kevin E. Peterson Jr. died.
Peterson, 21, of Camas, called Olivia Selto on FaceTime as he ran from an undercover drug sting in Hazel Dell, an unincorporated Clark County community northwest of Vancouver.
“I got set up,” Peterson told Selto as he fled. “I’m going to jail for the rest of my life.”
“I’m sorry,” he told her, according to a written statement Selto released through a lawyer representing her and the Peterson family.
Lawyers for the family also released an image Selto captured on her phone after the Oct. 29 shooting.
Selto, 21, was at home in her bedroom with the couple’s baby, Kailiah, when Peterson called. He was moving quickly, his voice was laced with fear, she wrote.
“I got set up,” he told her, according to her account. “I’m going to jail for the rest of my life. I’m sorry.”
She was confused, she wrote, and pressed him for information about what was going on.
She said she heard the sounds of screeching tires and Peterson’s movement.
“They’re shooting at me,” he told her, according to her account.
Over and over, she said she told him she loved him.
She said she saw a deputy “standing directly in front of him with his weapon pointed toward Kevin.”
She said she heard “a shocking number of gunshots” and began recording the call.
She said she saw Peterson’s face on the screen. “He was absolutely terrified,” she said in her statement.
“It appeared he was laying on his back but, his shoulders and head were off the ground as if he was falling backwards,” she said.
“I love you,” she said Peterson told her.
She said they were his final words.
“He tried to say more but I could not understand,” Selto wrote.
She said the line fell silent. She listened for a deputy or emergency medical workers to approach. She said she and her mother, who had been in the other room, tried to get in touch with Peterson’s parents.
Her FaceTime call with Peterson was still active. Five minutes after the shooting, she said she heard the sound of police over the phone.
She wrote that she heard an officer tell Peterson they were going to remove his gun and another call out Peterson’s entry wounds.
Her mother spoke up and addressed the police, she said. “You need to help him,” Selto said her mother told them.
Then she heard the voice of one of the deputies: “He’s not breathing.”
Selto said she screamed.
One of the deputies then reached for Peterson’s phone, she said. She could see their faces as they kneeled over Peterson, he said in her statement.
“The officers were now whispering,” she said.
She heard one observe that the phone was recording the call and another say the phone should be turned off.
In all, three deputies fired a total of 34 times in what authorities described for investigators as a confusing scene that unfolded in seconds in the parking lot of a closed U.S. Bank. The situation was so chaotic with so much gunfire that two of the deputies mistakenly feared that Peterson had fired at them. Peterson was hit four times and died on the pavement.
Peterson had been set up by an undercover informant in a deal to sell 50 Xanax pills. He ran from his car in the parking lot of a Quality Inn to the nearby bank parking lot. He was armed with a .40-caliber Glock 23 semiautomatic handgun, which police say he pointed at them. He did not fire it.