Man convicted of murder in the death of a Washington state police officer who was mistakenly shot by a sheriff's deputy

A Washington state man was found guilty of murder Friday for his role in the 2022 death of a police officer who was mistakenly shot by a sheriff’s deputy.

A Clark County jury convicted Julio Segura of Yakima on counts of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and eluding police, all in connection with the death of Vancouver police officer Donald Sahota, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

He was acquitted of other charges including attempted murder.

Sahota was off duty and at home in the city of Battle Ground on Jan. 29, 2022, the day he was fatally shot.

Earlier that day, Segura robbed a gas station near Vancouver, authorities said, and deputies chased his car toward Battle Ground.

The car crashed and Segura took off running, according to prosecutors. Deputies operating a drone saw him walking along a street and then turning toward the Sahota home at the end of a private road.

Officer Donald Sahota.

Officer Donald Sahota was killed while off-duty on Jan. 29, 2022.Vancouver Police Department via AP

Drone video shows someone at the home opened the door and talked to Segura for several minutes before the door closed again, court records said. Sahota’s wife called 911 to report that a man said he crashed his car and needed help.

Sahota, 52, then stepped outside to detain Segura in the driveway, according to court documents, and Segura stabbed him three times during a struggle. Segura ran into the house as Clark County deputies arrived.

Deputy Jonathan Feller saw Sahota pick up a gun and run toward the house, according to the documents. Feller opened fire roughly four seconds after arriving and mistakenly hit Sahota.

Coroners said Sahota died from gunshot wounds to the torso.

Prosecutors argued that Segura caused Sahota’s death by committing or attempting to commit other crimes, saying he “engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to any person.”

Segura’s defense did not dispute that he stole a car from a Yakima dealership and held up the gas station with a replica handgun. They said Segura was cornered by Sahota and Feller recklessly opened fire on the unfolding scene.

Segura testified that he acted in self-defense when he stabbed Sahota.

“It was a difficult case,” defense attorney Michele Michalek said Friday. “And I think Clark County needs to take a hard look on how they deal with officer-involved shootings.”

Another defense lawyer, Ed Dunkerly, said law enforcement needs more training. Asked whether Segura will appeal, he said the defense has a strong argument.

Prosecutor Tony Golik did not respond to requests from Oregon Public Broadcasting for comment. Golik said last year that Feller would not face criminal charges because he acted in “good faith” at a chaotic scene during a response to an armed robbery suspect.

The decision came after a panel of prosecutors reviewed the shooting and was unable to reach consensus on the “reasonableness” of Feller’s use of force.

Vancouver Police Chief Jeff Mori said Friday in a statement that it has been a long wait for Sahota’s family and friends.

“While we are grateful for this verdict, the pain and tragedy of Don’s death remains,” Mori said.

Sentencing is June 27.

Associated Press

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