VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) – Amid the investigation of an off-duty Vancouver officer’s shooting death over the weekend after a Clark County deputy fired his rifle during a chase involving an accused robber, law enforcement training officials are speaking out about protocol.
Authorities said off-duty Officer Donald Sahota died from gunshot wounds outside of his home after Clark County Deputy Jonathan Feller fired his rifle at the scene as an accused robber entered Sohata’s Battle Ground home.
Feller, who is on leave right now, was one of three Clark County deputies who fatally shot 21-year-old Kevin Peterson Jr. in October 2020.
The shooting was later ruled as “justified” by investigating prosecutors in Washington’s Pierce County.
In an audio recording from November 9, 2020, Feller was interviewed by detectives with the Longview Police Department who were tasked with investigating Peterson’s death.
“As I’m pulling up in my Tahoe, I see him running northbound as I’m putting in park. I look out, I can see him, it looks like he has his hand up to his ear, his left ear…and I could see his right arm swinging and as his right arm was swinging, I could see the gun in his right hand,” Feller said during the interview.
Feller goes on to tell detectives he got out of his vehicle and immediately drew his gun.
“I just started giving him commands, ‘get on the ground, drop the gun, get on the ground, drop the gun’ and I was just yelling those repeatedly,” Feller said.
According to Feller’s account, Peterson was jogging so he continued walking in Peterson’s anticipated direction.
“I still had my handgun pointed at him, still yelling ‘drop the gun, get on the ground, drop the gun, get on the ground,’” Feller explained.
“He turns towards me and I can see the gun, it’s in right hand, it’s at his waist level, and it’s at his waist, pointed up from his waist and the barrel’s pointed right at me,” Feller said.
Feller goes on to says that in that moment he heard gun shots and thought Peterson had fired at him.
“I didn’t see any muzzle flash from the barrel, but at that point I’d heard gun shots from my left and I thought he was firing at me. I started returning fire shooting at him at that time…all I knew was I had to stop him at that time because I believed he was firing at me,” Feller said.
This all happened in Washington state, but KOIN 6 spoke to the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training about how they train their officers and when it’s legal for an officer to shoot.
“Someone has to be in danger. They have to be in danger of serious physical injury or death. That could be the officer or the member of the public. We’re allowed to use force under Oregon law to defend ourselves and defend others,” Scott Willadsen of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training said.
“If the officer reasonably believes that person is in jeopardy of death or serious physical injury, that officer can use deadly force to stop that person from continuing to be a threat,” Willadsen added.
Robbery suspect Julio Segura faces an attempted murder charge after court documents say he stabbed Sahota. Segura is also being held on $5 million bail.
No charges have been filed against Feller at this time. The investigation is ongoing.