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Bail stays at $5 million for robbery suspect charged in Vancouver police Officer Sahota’s death

Arraignment on new charges, including multiple counts of murder, is set over to March 1

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

New details emerged Wednesday during a court hearing for Julio Segura, the alleged robber who was being chased when an off-duty Vancouver police officer was shot and killed in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Afterward, Segura allegedly told detectives he thought he’d just made Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota’s wife a widow, court records say. When a detective asked Segura why, he allegedly replied, “Because I stabbed someone. Don’t you bleed out?”

Although the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office found Sahota died from gunshot wounds, an autopsy also determined his stab wounds were life-threatening.

The information was contained in an updated probable cause affidavit that Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik says supports a slew of new charges, including multiple counts of murder, filed Tuesday against Segura. Golik called the new information “significantly more troubling” than the circumstances he recited at Segura’s first appearance Jan. 31.

Prosecutors argue that Segura, 20, of Yakima, caused Sahota’s death while committing or attempting to commit other crimes. He now faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count each of second-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted kidnapping, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Segura was to be arraigned on the charges Wednesday morning, but the hearing was set over to March 1.

Vancouver defense attorney Neil Cane said he’s challenging the specifics of the most serious charges, particularly the multiple counts of murder. He said he and his client did not understand the charges well enough to enter not-guilty pleas Wednesday morning.

Instead, the attorneys argued over bail.

At Segura’s first appearance, Superior Court Judge John Fairgrieve set bail at $5 million. Cane filed a motion last week arguing it should be lowered to $50,000.

Superior Court Judge Nancy Retsinas denied Cane’s request Wednesday and ordered bail to remain at $5 million. She noted the lengthy police chase leading up to the shooting and risk to community safety posed by Segura.

An intruder at the door

According to the updated affidavit of probable cause, investigators synced drone footage, police airplane footage and a 911 call to create a timeline of the incident.

At 8:14 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded to an armed robbery call at a Chevron convenience store at 9810 N.E. 117th Ave.

Shortly after, a deputy spotted the getaway car, a silver Mercedes without license plates, headed north on Interstate 205 from Padden Parkway. The driver refused to stop, and a chase ensued. The pursuit lasted about 12 miles and reached speeds of more than 110 mph, according to the affidavit.

Segura crashed the Mercedes near Northeast 219th Street and Northeast 72nd Avenue, the affidavit states. He then ran from the car, which police later determined had been reported stolen from a Yakima car dealership.

Deputies operating a drone saw Segura walking along Northeast 84th Avenue before he turned toward the Sahota home, which sits at the end of a private road.

Drone video shows someone at the home opened the door and talked to Segura for nearly three minutes before the front door closed, the affidavit states. During that time, Sahota’s wife called 911 to report a man was at their door, saying he’d crashed his car and needed help.

Less than 30 seconds later, the affidavit states someone, later identified as Sahota, stepped outside toward Segura.

Sahota can be seen on drone video with his left arm extended in front of him and his right hand near his chest. Segura put his hands in the air and backed away. He knelt near the garage, then Sahota pushed him facedown into the concrete driveway, the affidavit says.

Seconds later, the men began fighting. It was dark, and the images are unclear, according to the affidavit, but the two can be seen standing and then going to the ground twice before an object, which appeared to be a gun, fell to the ground.

Officers operating the drone and a police airplane relayed to other officers that the homeowner and the intruder had been wrestling in the driveway over a gun, the affidavit states.

Struggling for the gun

The two continued to struggle, court records state, and then one person appeared to swing at the other. The officer reviewing the video couldn’t determine who was hitting whom, according to the affidavit.

Investigators later learned that Sahota fired one 9 mm round from his pistol during the incident. The round entered the frame of the front door, according to a Wednesday news release from the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team out of Cowlitz County, which is investigating the shooting.

Segura allegedly later told detectives that he’d disarmed Sahota during the struggle, and they were both reaching for the fallen gun. He said Sahota got him into a chokehold, and he could feel himself passing out. He said he reached for a knife in his pocket and stabbed the officer three times, court records state.

About 15 seconds later, the video shows one man, later identified as Segura, broke free and ran inside the house. Four seconds after that, Sahota picked up the gun and ran toward the front door, according to the affidavit.

Deputy Jonathan Feller’s patrol car can be seen arriving at Sahota’s house as Segura ran toward the house and got inside. As Feller’s car came to a stop, Sahota, who was illuminated by the headlights, is seen grabbing the gun and running toward the front door, according to court records.

The officers in the airplane shouted “Be careful, it’s a gun right there. I think he picked it up,” the affidavit states.

Seconds after grabbing the gun, Sahota kicked at his front door. Feller then stepped from his car and fired four shots in four seconds, the affidavit says.

Sahota was struck by three .223 caliber rifle rounds. Two rounds struck his back and passed through his chest, and the third struck his right wrist. The fourth round missed Sahota and entered the front door of the house, according to investigators.

After Feller’s last shot, other officers begin arriving, according to the affidavit.

Feller told investigators he was convinced at the time that Sahota was the robbery suspect and said he fired at the man to stop him “from getting inside and killing the occupants,” the affidavit says.

None of the responding officers reported witnessing or hearing Sahota fire his weapon during the incident. Investigators have provided audio and video evidence to the FBI to assist in determining the sequence of gunshots, the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team said.

Suspect surrenders

About 30 seconds later, the front door opened. Officers shouted for the person to go back inside, thinking it was Sahota. Segura opened the door again and raised his hands in the air. He walked out the door, stepped over Sahota’s legs, and stepped backward toward officers. While officers arrested Segura, three others ran to give Sahota medical aid, the affidavit says. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Segura allegedly described checking his own body for gunshot wounds. He said he was confused that he was uninjured “because cops don’t miss,” the affidavit states.

Sahota’s wife told deputies that when Segura entered the house, he chased her. She could feel him grabbing at her, “trying to take me down.” She couldn’t remember if he got hold of her hair but said she had some tenderness on the back of her head. She was taken to a hospital for treatment for a contusion on her forehead, caused by the front door striking her when Segura pushed his way inside, court records say.

The affidavit states Segura told a detective, “Now she is a widow because of me, man.”

He began to cry and said, “They had such a nice home, and I ruined that for them. I destroyed that. I’m not a killer, man. This is going to (expletive) haunt me for the rest of my life, man. Like, what is my mom going to think when she finds out that her son stabbed someone?”

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