VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy in Washington state who mistakenly shot and killed an off-duty police officer will not face criminal charges.
The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced its decision not to charge Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller Thursday in a letter to the sheriff, The Columbian reported.
The decision was made after a panel of prosecutors from around the state tasked with reviewing the shooting of Vancouver Police Officer Donald Sahota was unable to reach consensus on the “reasonableness” of Feller’s use of force.
Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said last week his office would review the 11-page advisory opinion — in addition to an independent investigation — and render his own decision.
“The result of Deputy Feller’s use of deadly force in this case was incredibly tragic. However, the facts support a finding that Deputy Feller made a mistake that a reasonable officer could have made in the same situation,” Golik’s letter to the sheriff said.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it received the letter Thursday.
“We have and will continue to provide support to Deputy Feller,” the sheriff’s office said in a written statement.
Feller was placed on leave after the shooting and returned to administrative duty in July.
The shooting happened on Jan. 29, 2022, as police tried to catch a man, later identified as Julio Segura, 21, of Yakima, who was wanted for allegedly robbing a gas station at gunpoint in Vancouver, near Portland, Oregon. Segura, in a stolen Mercedes, fled the gas station with several hundred dollars, authorities said.
Officers stopped his vehicle with spike strips, but ran and ended up about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the gas station at Sahota’s home in the city of Battle Ground, Washington.
Segura pounded on the door and said he’d been in a car crash and needed help, court documents said.
Sahota’s wife called 911 and said the man matched the description of a robbery suspect, authorities said. She told dispatchers that her husband, an armed, off-duty police officer, was headed outside to confront the man and detain him for law enforcement.
The two men fought in the driveway and Sahota was stabbed several times. Segura then forced his way into Sahota’s house, according to court documents.
Sahota, armed with his gun, chased the suspect just as Feller arrived and shot Sahota with a rifle. The investigation found Feller fired four shots within four seconds of arriving at Sahota’s home. An autopsy showed the gunshots killed Sahota.
Segura has pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder and other charges and his trial is set for later this year.