Donald Sahota was fatally shot by a Clark County sheriff’s deputy within seconds of the deputy’s arrival at Sahota’s Battle Ground home Saturday night, according to investigators.
Sahota, an off-duty Vancouver police officer, was shot in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team released its initial findings in a statement late Sunday evening. The statement detailed a series of events that began with an armed robbery at an Orchards gas station and ended with the shooting on the porch of Sahota’s rural home.
It began at 8:14 p.m. Saturday, when deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery at a Chevron station at 9810 N.E. 117th Ave.
Twelve minutes later, deputies spotted the suspect’s car, which they determined to be stolen, on northbound Interstate 205. The driver failed to stop and eluded pursuing officers for several miles onto northbound Interstate 5 before taking the exit toward Battle Ground, according to the statement.
Officers assisting in the pursuit used spike strips to immobilize the car. The driver bailed out and ran away, the statement said.
As officers worked to contain the fleeing suspect, at 8:56 p.m. a woman called 911 reporting that a man had pounded on her family’s front door asking for help because he’d just been involved in a collision.
The woman told 911 dispatch that her husband, Sahota, 52, was an off-duty officer with the Vancouver Police Department and that he had armed himself and gone into the driveway to detain the man for responding officers, the statement said.
During that encounter, the man became aggressive and started fighting with Sahota while his wife was still on the phone with 911, according to the statement. Sahota lost control of his firearm and was stabbed several times before the man broke free and began running toward Sahota’s house.
When a deputy and at least two additional law enforcement officers arrived, Sahota had regained control of his firearm and was running after the man, who was still armed with the knife, as he tried to force his way into the home, the statement said.
“Within seconds of responding law enforcement officers arriving on scene, one Clark County deputy sheriff fired several rounds from a rifle, striking the off-duty officer,” the statement said. “The off-duty officer/homeowner collapsed on his front porch before responding officers were able to determine he was the homeowner and not the alleged robbery suspect.”
At 9 p.m., paramedics and an ambulance were summoned to the home for a reported gunshot wound. Responders attempted to provide emergency trauma care for Sahota, but they could not save his life, the statement said.
The cause of Sahota’s death was not released pending the outcome of an autopsy.
The suspect in the robbery and pursuit, Julio Cesar Segura, 20, was taken into custody without further incident, the statement said.
The investigation of the use of force by the Clark County deputy sheriff is being investigated by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team from Cowlitz County, in accordance with the Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act.
The name of the deputy who fired the rifle was not released.
Sahota is survived by his wife and two children. The Vancouver Police Department hired Sahota in April 2014. He worked in patrol, served as an emergency vehicle operations instructor and an armorer, and was most recently assigned to the training unit, according to the Vancouver release. Prior to that, he worked as a police officer for the Gresham (Ore.) Police Department and Port of Portland Police Department.