No charges for Wash. deputy who mistakenly shot, killed off-duty cop
“The facts support a finding that Deputy Feller made a mistake that a reasonable officer could have made in the same situation,” a prosecutor said
By Jessica Prokop
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Prosecutors will not file criminal charges against the Clark County sheriff’s deputy who mistakenly shot and killed off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota.
The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced its decision Thursday in a one-page letter to Sheriff John Horch.
The decision comes after a statewide panel of prosecutors tasked with reviewing the fatal shooting was unable to reach consensus on the “reasonableness” of Deputy Jonathan 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 the independent investigation conducted by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team — and render its own decision.
Local prosecutors subsequently determined Feller will not be held criminally liable.
“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,” reads the letter, which was signed by Golik.
Washington law states a law enforcement officer shall not be held criminally liable for the use of deadly force if it was used in “good faith.” That is, a similarly situated law enforcement officer would have also used deadly force under the circumstances.
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 news release.
Feller returned to administrative duty in July after being placed on leave following the shooting.
Sahota, 52, was mistakenly shot and killed Jan. 29, 2022, at his home near Battle Ground during a manhunt for an armed robbery suspect. Deputies were pursuing Julio Segura, 21, of Yakima, who fled from his immobilized car to a nearby house, which happened to be Sahota’s, according to investigators.
Sahota struggled with the intruder in his driveway and was stabbed three times. Sahota was chasing Segura toward his house when Feller shot him. The investigation found Feller fired four shots within four seconds of arriving at Sahota’s home.
Segura is facing murder and attempted murder charges, plus other charges, in Clark County Superior Court. His trial is set for later this year.
Because Segura’s criminal case is pending, Golik said he could not speak further about the facts of the case.
“CCSO likewise will not make further comment on this incident until after the prosecution has concluded in this case, other than to say again that our thoughts, prayers, and support remain with the friends and family of Vancouver Police Officer Donald Sahota and the Vancouver Police Department,” the agency said in the news release.
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