Tuesday, April 13, 2021
April 13, 2021

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Vancouver police seize additional evidence in Donald shooting investigation

Local coalition calls for state, federal investigation into Clark County Sheriff’s Office

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:
4 Photos
Photographs released Friday by the Vancouver Police Department -- which is leading the Jenoah Donald shooting investigation and handling the release of information -- show items found during a search of Donald's Mercedes-Benz earlier this month.
Photographs released Friday by the Vancouver Police Department -- which is leading the Jenoah Donald shooting investigation and handling the release of information -- show items found during a search of Donald's Mercedes-Benz earlier this month. (Photo contributed by the Vancouver Police Department) Photo Gallery

New court records filed earlier this week in the Jenoah Donald shooting investigation show miscellaneous tools, including a screwdriver, wire cutters and a spring-assisted knife, were seized as evidence from the front seat area of his car.

The items were not included on an evidence receipt previously filed in connection with a search of Donald’s car, although investigators say the items had been photographed. Some of those photographs were released Friday by the Vancouver Police Department, which is leading the shooting investigation and handling the release of information.

The new search warrant affidavit filed Tuesday in Clark County District Court does not indicate why the items were not seized and logged as evidence at that time. A Kobalt drill was among items initially listed on the evidence receipt.

Investigators and court records have not indicated that Donald reached for the items at any time during the traffic stop that led to his death. An initial synopsis of the incident said Donald, a 30-year-old Black man, produced a cellphone and pair of pliers from behind his back.

“All the photos show is a messy car and no weapons. Jenoah never reached for anything. He never threatened the deputies. There was no reason for police to escalate the situation,” said Mark Lindquist of Tacoma-based Herrmann Law Group, one of the attorneys representing Donald’s family.

On Friday, a coalition of Clark County residents and organizations condemned Donald’s killing and called for the Washington Attorney General’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for what they allege is a “pattern of disparate policing and deadly force.”

Donald, of Battle Ground, was shot by a Clark County sheriff’s deputy during a Feb. 4 traffic stop in Hazel Dell. Investigators say Deputy Sean Boyle wrestled with him in the driver’s seat of Donald’s car before firing twice, striking him once in the head, after the car began rolling forward with Boyle partially inside.

Donald died at a hospital Feb. 12 after being removed from life support. His memorial service was held Friday.

Coalition letter

The coalition noted that Donald is the second Black man to be killed by sheriff’s deputies in less than four months, and at least the third Black man killed by local law enforcement in less than two years. Kevin Peterson Jr., 21, was killed by deputies in October less than a mile from where Donald was shot. Carlos Hunter, 43, was fatally shot by Vancouver police task force members in March 2019, also in Hazel Dell.

The letter — addressed to the sheriff’s office, county council members; Vancouver’s mayor, city council members and city manager; and the Vancouver Police Department — says African Americans make up approximately 2.4 percent of Clark County’s population but represent a third of those killed by local law enforcement over the last two years.

“While Black and brown people continue to be overincarcerated and more likely to be stopped, frisked, harassed, roughed up, arrested, shot, arraigned and prosecuted in Clark County, armed white militants and vigilantes appear to be treated with significant restraint if not outright deference and camaraderie by local law enforcement,” the letter reads.

The group pointed to a Jan. 29 incident at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. Protesters associated with anti-government activist Ammon Bundy gathered outside the building — some of them armed — because they thought a patient inside, who had refused a COVID-19 test, was being held against her will. The letter also stated an “armed mob” intimidated mourners at Peterson’s vigil.

“Not one member of the mobs was subjected to deadly force, arrested or even threatened with arrest. Even amid aggressive behavior,” the letter states.

In addition to a state and federal investigation, the coalition is demanding local investigations into the shootings of Donald and Peterson that comply with Initiative 940; prosecution and discipline of those “criminally culpable in these homicides”; accountability and transparency from the sheriff’s office; and implementation of body-worn and dashboard camera programs at the sheriff’s office.

“As community members and taxpayers, we deserve and demand a functional, accountable, transparent Clark County government that exercises its power fairly, justly, competently and without bias. That, however, does not reflect the reality, and we will not rest until it does,” the letter concludes.

It is signed by Hunter’s family, Clark County Justice Group, Indivisible Greater Vancouver, Movement of Mothers Standing up together (M.O.M.S.), MoveOn Clark County, Odyssey World International Education Services, Outsiders Inn, Peace for Vancouver, Ridgefield Community Group, S.T.R.I.V.E. Clark County WA and Sunrise Movement SWWA.

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