PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Lawyers for the families of two men shot and killed by Clark County deputies in a three-month period have asked a federal judge to consolidate their cases against the county into one trial.
Although the families of Kevin Peterson Jr. and Jenoah Donald filed separate wrongful death lawsuits against Clark County, their attorneys, Mark Lindquist and Angus Lee, claim there is overlapping evidence and witnesses in the two cases.
“Together these two cases present an unusual procedural and factual scenario that calls for consolidation,” according to Lindquist and Lee.
“Both of these lawsuits have the same purpose, accountability for the sheriff’s department and improvements in patterns and practices of how they use deadly force,” Lindquist told KOIN 6.
The attorneys allege that the Clark County Sheriff’s Office has a “pattern and practice of excessive force by deputies.” Within an 18-month span, CCSO deputies were involved in three different deadly shootings, including the one that claimed the life of off-duty Vancouver Police Officer Donald Sahota.
In October of 2020, authorities tried to stop Peterson during a drug sting but he ran away. He was later found by CCSO deputies who said Peterson refused to listen to orders to drop his gun, prompting them to fire their weapons.
Surveillance video shows deputies shooting at Peterson, firing off a total of 34 shots, according to attorneys.
Following an investigation, it was revealed that claims made in an affidavit about Peterson firing a gun before being shot to death were false. Although there is no evidence he shot the gun, the Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team said Peterson had pointed a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun at deputies at times.
Nearly 15 months later, Deputy John Feller, one of the deputies who shot Peterson, fatally shot Officer Sahota thinking he was the suspect. Feller was not charged in either shooting.
“If Clark County had disciplined or retrained Deputy Feller after the wrongful shooting of Kevin Peterson, Officer Sahota would likely still be alive today,” said Lindquist.
Then in February of 2021, CCSO Deputy Sean Boyle shot and killed Donald after pulling him over for a bad tail light. According to the attorneys, Boyle punched Donald, who was on the autism spectrum, in the face — breaking his nose — then forcibly removed him from the vehicle.
Investigators said Donald was shot twice after the “struggle” and ultimately died a week later when he was taken off life support.
“The fact there has been no termination, discipline, or retraining after these shootings is highly relevant to pattern and practice,” the family attorneys argue.
Donald’s mother sent a statement to KOIN 6 saying she wants this trial to lead to changes for the better.
“I want a trial,” she said. “I want our community to know what happened to my son. I want change for the good of the community.”
If the federal judge approves the request to combine the cases, the trial would likely begin in Oct. 2023.
KOIN 6 asked Clark County for a statement about the situation, but they said they would not be commenting.
Clark County Sheriff’s deputies do not wear body cameras.