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News / Clark County News

Deputy Feller acted within Clark County Sheriff’s Office policy despite Vancouver officer’s death

Internal affairs unit said Feller acted reasonably but any opportunity for more training should be taken advantage of

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 29, 2024, 6:10am

Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller acted within agency policy when he mistakenly fatally shot off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota in January 2022, according to the sheriff’s office.

Julio Segura, 23, of Yakima was sentenced Thursday to 29 years in prison for his role in the shooting that killed Sahota after being found guilty of a slew of charges, including first-degree murder.

Segura stabbed Sahota as the two struggled in Sahota’s Battle Ground driveway on the night of Jan. 29, 2022. Law enforcement from multiple agencies had chased Segura to the area in connection with an armed robbery at an Orchards gas station.

Moments later, Feller arrived and mistakenly shot Sahota.

The sheriff’s office’s internal affairs unit reviewed the investigation into the shooting completed by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, the shooting review completed by a panel from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the charging decision completed by the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

While the investigation into the shooting was to determine the legality of Feller’s actions, the sheriff’s office’s unit’s aim was to determine whether Feller’s actions complied with agency policy, according to records obtained by The Columbian.

The panel of prosecutors said it could not reach a consensus about the reasonableness of Feller’s actions. The panel was split between those who felt Feller should’ve taken the time to identify who he was aiming at before shooting and those who felt that the information Feller had at the time reasonably led him to believe he was aiming at the robbery suspect instead of Sahota.

The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office subsequently declined to charge Feller, saying that a reasonable officer in a similar situation would have believed it necessary to shoot.

The sheriff’s office administration determined that Feller’s decision to shoot did not violate the agency’s use-of-force policy, records show.

But the agency said the case demonstrates the need for thorough training.

“Though it may have not changed the response of a reasonable officer in this particular situation, this tragedy reminds us of the value of scenario-based training and the importance of split-second use-of-force decision making,” a sheriff’s office commander wrote in the review, adding that the sheriff’s office “has a robust use-of-force training program that meets state standards, but any increase as time and staffing allow is recommended.”

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