Man convicted of murder in death of Washington police officer shot by deputy sentenced to 29 years

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state man found guilty of murder for his role in the 2022 death of a police officer who was mistakenly shot by a sheriff’s deputy was sentenced Friday to 29 years in prison.

A Clark County Superior Court judge sentenced Julio Segura of Yakima in the death of Vancouver police officer Donald Sahota, The Columbian reported. More than a dozen people gave statements about Sahota in court before the sentencing.

A Clark County jury last month convicted Segura, 23, of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and eluding police. He was acquitted of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping and first-degree burglary.

The jury deliberated for eight hours after a trial that lasted several weeks.

Sahota, 52, was off duty and at home in the city of Battle Ground on Jan. 29, 2022, the day he was fatally shot. Law enforcement from multiple agencies had chased Segura to Sahota's neighborhood in connection with an armed robbery at a gas station.

Segura stabbed Sahota as the two struggled in Sahota’s driveway. Moments later, Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller arrived and mistakenly shot 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.”

During Thursday’s hearing, Sahota’s wife, Dawnese Sahota, told Judge Nancy Retsinas of her husband’s resilience and work ethic. She said her 33 years with him were not enough.

“This tragedy that is now my reality has left me brokenhearted," she said. "Shattered.”

She said she holds Segura 100% responsible for her husband’s death by creating the confusion that led to his shooting.

Vancouver Police Chief Jeff Mori told the judge of Sahota’s compassion as a trainer for the agency and the way he always taught officers to treat the people they encounter as they, too, would want to be treated.

Sahota’s mother, Darlene Baun, shared memories of her son’s childhood and their struggle with abuse and homelessness when he was a boy.“I’m so proud of my son. He went through so much, and he always tried to do good,” she said. “He loved helping people.”

Prosecutor Tony Golik asked the judge to sentence Segura at the top of the sentencing range. He called Segura’s actions “dangerous, violent and self-centered.”

Segura apologized to the Sahota family at the hearing.

“I understand there’s nothing I can say to alleviate all that pain that I caused," Segura said. “There’s nothing I can say, except that from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.”

Segura’s defense team submitted about 1,200 pages of records detailing Segura’s tumultuous upbringing with stints in foster care and counseling. They asked the judge to consider a shorter sentence.