A Black Vancouver man shot by a Clark County sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop last week in Hazel Dell had no firearms inside his vehicle, court records show, and a sharp object described by one of the involved deputies, which apparently prompted the escalation, may have been a cordless Kobalt drill on the front passenger’s seat.
Investigators and court records have not indicated that the driver, Jenoah Donald, 30, reached for the item at any time during the incident.
The Feb. 4 shooting occurred after three deputies responded around 7:40 p.m. to the area of Northeast 68th Street and Northeast Second Avenue for a “suspicious activity” call. Deputy Sean Boyle stopped a bronze-colored Mercedes-Benz, driven by Donald, for a “defective rear light,” an initial account of the shooting investigation states.
According to investigators and court records, Boyle wrestled with Donald in the driver’s seat of Donald’s car before firing twice, striking him once, after the car began rolling forward with Boyle partially inside.
Donald’s family had him removed from life support Thursday, a week after he was shot in the head, according to Mark Lindquist of Herrmann Law Group, who is representing Donald’s family.
A Thursday morning update on the family’s GoFundMe page said that Donald’s condition had not improved so the family decided to place him on comfort care.
“Thank you so much for the continued support of the family and for the thoughts and prayers. They are needed now more than ever,” the update reads.
Documents filed Thursday in Clark County District Court to search the 1999 Mercedes-Benz 230 cite probable cause for third-degree assault. The search warrant was requested by Vancouver police Officer Dustin Goudschaal.
The drill was among 13 items recovered from the vehicle, an evidence receipt shows. The car is currently at the Vancouver Police Department’s East Precinct.
Other items listed on the evidence receipt include two projectiles; a 9 mm shell casing; swabs of the steering wheel and center console; a brown leather wallet; a medical bracelet belonging to Donald; two cellphones, one inside of a backpack and another on the front passenger’s seat; a laptop inside the same backpack; and a Washington state trip permit. An eyeglass case “containing suspected drug paraphernalia” was located in the backpack; the evidence receipt does not elaborate further.
“When you look at the items recovered, this confirms there was no weapon in the car,” the attorney, Lindquist, said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “A standard, commercial drill shouldn’t cause a panic. No. 1, drills are only used as weapons in the movies, and No. 2, Jenoah never used it or even reached for it.”
Lindquist noted that one of the provisions of the Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act, formerly known as I-940, is de-escalation training for officers.
“This incident serves as an unfortunate cautionary tale about what happens when officers do not practice de-escalation,” he said.
Lara Herrmann of the Tacoma-based law firm has called for Boyle’s arrest.
K-9 attack threatened
According to a search warrant affidavit, the Mercedes-Benz was last registered to a Fairview, Ore., man and was listed as “totaled/reconstructed.” The vehicle’s registration expired in August 2019 in Oregon.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office last had contact with the vehicle Jan. 21, at which time Donald was driving and cited for driving with a suspended license. Court records show Donald has had numerous driving violations in Clark County District Court over the years.
The affidavit largely mirrors an investigation synopsis released Wednesday night by the Vancouver Police Department, which is leading the shooting investigation and handling the release of information.
Boyle had responded at 7:37 p.m. to the 6500 block of Northwest Jordan Way for a report of suspicious activity. Two vehicles were reportedly circling the area.
The 911 caller “expressed frustration with the ‘drug house’ and ‘constant barrage of issues affecting the neighborhood,’ ” according to the synopsis and search warrant affidavit. There have been more than 40 calls for service or responses in that area since June 2020.
Investigators did not say whether the 911 caller had provided a description of either of the two vehicles reportedly circling the area.
Boyle said he saw a bronze-colored Mercedes-Benz, with Oregon license plates and a modified exhaust, driving on 68th Street. He followed the car and noticed it had a defective rear light, so he activated his emergency lights and stopped the car, just north of the intersection with Second Avenue, according to investigators.
The driver identified himself with an ID card as Donald, but he could not provide proof of insurance or registration, investigators said. According to the search warrant affidavit, Donald told Boyle his license was suspended.
Deputy Holly Troupe then arrived on scene and stood by the passenger’s side of Donald’s car to cover Boyle as he returned to his vehicle. She told investigators she became concerned about some items inside Donald’s vehicle, including what she described as a “ball-handled” object with a 3- to 4-inch sharpened “stake” on the end near the center console, according to the investigation synopsis.
Troupe repeatedly told Donald to place his hands in a visible location, according to investigators, but he did not comply, the synopsis says. He reportedly moved his hands behind his back and pulled out a cellphone and metal pliers. The pliers were not listed on the evidence receipt for the search warrant. However, an LG cellphone was found on the passenger’s seat.
Boyle became aware that the situation was escalating so he returned to Donald’s car. Deputy Greg Agar had also arrived by this time, the synopsis states.
Boyle opened the driver’s door and asked Donald to exit the car. He did not comply. Boyle and Troupe then tried to remove Donald from the car, but he resisted and struggled, according to investigators.
“Deputy Boyle, as a ruse, informed Jenoah Donald that he would send his K-9 to bite Jenoah Donald if he did not stop resisting. This did not gain compliance and Jenoah Donald continued to struggle with Deputy Boyle and Troupe,” the search warrant affidavit reads. (Boyle, a 21-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, is a K-9 handler out of the Central Precinct.)
The affidavit states that Boyle was the “main participant in the incident as there is limited room in the door area for Deputy Troupe or Deputy Agar to assist.” Neither the affidavit nor the synopsis have shed much light on what Troupe and Agar did during the struggle.
According to the affidavit, “Deputy Troupe attempted to gain ‘pain compliance,’ ” by using finger pressure under Donald’s jaw, which had no effect.
Boyle said he felt Donald pull on his outer ballistic vest, and he was pulled into Donald’s car. Boyle ordered Donald to let him go, but he held on, investigators said. Boyle punched Donald in the nose as they struggled, to no effect and to which Donald reportedly said, “Really?” the affidavit reads.
Troupe told investigators she was concerned Donald was going use his free hand to grab the sharpened item in his vehicle and assault Boyle.
Donald reportedly turned on the vehicle’s engine during the struggle. The deputies said they heard the engine revving and “wheels spinning.” Boyle continued to try to free himself from Donald but was unsuccessful, according to investigators.
“Deputy Boyle felt the vehicle begin to move forward, and fearing he was going to be killed, he drew his firearm (Deputy Boyle is left-handed) and gave Mr. Donald a verbal warning to stop or he would be shot,” investigators said.
Boyle fired two shots; one struck Donald. The deputy then pushed away from the vehicle, which traveled northwest until it hit a fence in a neighboring yard, according to the synopsis. All three deputies approached the vehicle, removed Donald and began rendering aid.