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News / Clark County News

Use-of-force expert blames deputy’s equipment setting for death of Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota

Defendant Julio Segura scheduled to testify Wednesday

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 21, 2024, 6:42pm

The Yakima man accused in the death of off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota is set to testify Wednesday in his murder trial.

Julio Segura’s testimony is scheduled to begin day 11 of his trial in Clark County Superior Court.

Segura, 22, is accused of stabbing Sahota multiple times as the two struggled in Sahota’s Battle Ground driveway. Law enforcement from multiple agencies had chased Segura to the area in connection with an armed robbery at an Orchards gas station. Moments later, Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller arrived and mistakenly shot Sahota.

Prosecutors argue Segura’s actions caused Sahota’s death. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree murder, attempted first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

At the end of the day Tuesday, a defense use-of-force analyst blamed Feller’s use of an optic on his rifle for causing him to mistakenly shoot Sahota. William McKnight said Feller’s red-dot optic was set too bright and obscured Feller’s view of who he was aiming at.

He said Feller should’ve been more familiar with his equipment.

The jury watched a video that law enforcement investigators recorded of the view through the optic on Feller’s rifle at various brightness settings. It was aimed at a mannequin on Sahota’s front porch from about the same spot Feller fired.

McKnight’s testimony came after Segura’s defense attorneys put Feller back on the stand. Prosecutors called Feller as a witness during the first week of trial. McKnight listened to Feller’s Tuesday testimony from the courtroom’s gallery.

Defense attorneys sought to drill down with Feller on the details of how and when he decided to shoot. During cross examination, Feller said he would make the same decision to shoot again today.

Prosecutors had rested their case against Segura just before Tuesday’s lunch break.

After the break, Segura’s defense team asked the judge to throw out his murder charges, along with the burglary and attempted kidnapping charges, saying the state failed to prove them.

Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik refuted the defense’s recount of the testimony over the past two weeks, and he asked Judge Nancy Retsinas to let the jury decide on all the charges.

The judge denied the motion to dismiss. Trial is scheduled to conclude this week.