VANCOUVER, Wash. — A full investigative report has been released detailing events surrounding the death of an off-duty Vancouver police officer who was shot by a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy on Jan. 29 after being mistaken for a fleeing robbery suspect.
The report lays out what investigators say happened the night Officer Donald Sahota was shot and killed at his home in rural Battle Ground. It includes several hundred pages of investigative materials, including witness interview transcripts, photos of evidence from the scene and aerial footage.
Investigators said Julio Segura, 20, robbed a Chevron convenience store in the Orchards area before fleeing from deputies in a stolen car. He drove into the Battle Ground area before ditching the car and running away on foot.
Drone footage shows Segura outside of Sahota's home in a secluded spot down a long driveway. It then shows Sahota, armed with a handgun, trying to subdue the suspect. During the struggle, Segura stabbed the off-duty officer three times, causing Sahota to drop his gun.
After a lengthy struggle between the two men, Segura runs for the front door of the Sahota home. Sahota’s wife can be heard in 911 audio describing the chaos and telling officers to hurry. Aerial video shows Sahota retrieving his gun and running toward the front door as well, after Segura.
That's when Clark County Deputy John Feller, the first law enforcement officer to arrive on scene, shot his patrol rifle and killed Sahota.
Dr. Keith Taylor, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City has been following this case.
"As I've seen the video, the report is quite clear that they thought that this individual was the person who presented the threat," Dr. Taylor said.
In a tearful investigative interview, Feller recounts that Sahota seemed to match the description of the suspect, so he thought in those few seconds that he was firing on a dangerous and armed person.
“I believed if that person got in that house, they'd kill them ... and I had to stop that person from getting in and hurting those innocent people,” Feller said through emotional sobs.
Outside prosecutors will review the report made public on Friday, to determine if the shooting was justified. Feller currently does not face any charges.
The suspect, Segura, faces multiple felony charges, including murder. Prosecutors believe the stab wounds Segura allegedly inflicted on Sahota could have ended his life if the deputy’s bullets hadn’t.
Investigators interviewed Segura following the shooting. In the video, Segura admits to stabbing Sahota.
"I panicked," Segura said. "Both of us… I was in the wrong because I approached someone in the middle of the night, at his own household so … yeah, I would try to get the suspect on the ground with a gun too."
Dr. Taylor believes that the full release of this information gives the public a better sense of what happened.
"How such well intentions could result in the tragedy that occurred," Dr. Taylor said, "this is a severe tragedy, the loss of this officer's life."
Donald Sahota is survived by his wife and two children.