The five Washington state prosecutors who reviewed the case agreed that the fatal police shooting of Jenoah Donald during a traffic stop was justified, and no criminal charges will be filed against the deputy.
“We all agreed on the conclusion…that no criminal charges should be filed,” said Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan, with the prosecutors saying that Clark County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Deputy Sean Boyle acted “in good faith.”
“Donald’s refusal to exit the vehicle quickly escalated and Deputy Boyle, unable to reach his Taser, drew his weapon and shot Mr. Donald to protect himself and other deputies,” they stated.
On February 4, 7:37 p.m., a police officer in the county of Orange responded to the 6500-block of Northwest Jordan Way following a report of two suspicious vehicles circling the block.
The person who called 911 “expressed frustration with the ‘drug house’ and ‘constant barrage of issues affecting the neighborhood.’”
On August 11, 2012, Deputy Boyle observed a bronze Mercedes Benz with Oregon license plates and a malfunctioning tail light on 68th Street and pulled it over.
Donald, the driver, handed the officer his Washington state driver’s license but did not have vehicle insurance or registration.
According to the affidavit for a search warrant, Donald informed Deputy Boyle that his driver’s license had been revoked.
Deputy Holly Troupe, a deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the location and stood outside Donald’s passenger door while Deputy Boyle drove back to his car.
Deputy Troupe stated that there were some suspicious objects in the car, including a “ball-handled” object with a 3 to 4-inch sharpened “stake” on the end that was near the center console.
At the hearing, Deputy Troupe said she ordered Donald several times to keep his hands visible, but he ignored her and reached behind his back to produce a phone and pliers, at which point Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Agar showed up on the scene.
According to authorities, Deputy Boyle walked back to the Mercedes and opened the door, ordering Donald to get out. When he refused to comply, Deputy Boyle and Deputy Troupe attempted to pull him out of the vehicle.
He would not respond even after they threatened him with a police dog.
“Deputy Boyle, as a ruse, informed Jenoah Donald that he would send his K-9 to bite Jenoah Donald if he did not stop resisting,” the affidavit for the search warrant reads. “This did not gain compliance and Jenoah Donald continued to struggle with Deputy Boyle and Troupe.”
“Deputy Troupe attempted to gain ‘pain compliance,’” by pressuring with his finger under Donald’s jaw, but it was ineffective.
According to Deputy Boyle, he felt Donald tug on his outer ballistic vest before being pulled into the car. He ordered Donald to let go of him and struck him in the nose.
According to the affidavit, when Mr. Golding said he was ready, Donald only asked, “really?”
The cops said they heard Donald start the car’s engine during the fight, with Deputy Boyle claiming that he continued to struggle as he heard Donald rev the engine and “wheels spinning.”
“Deputy Boyle felt the vehicle begin to move forward, and fearing he was going to be killed, he drew his firearm (Deputy Boyle is left-handed) and gave Mr. Donald a verbal warning to stop or he would be shot,” the investigators’ report read.
Donald was shot twice by Deputy Boyle.
Deputy Boyle then pushed himself out of the vehicle, which continued on until it struck a fence in a neighboring yard.
The three deputies ran to the car and extracted Donald from it, giving him first aid.
He was taken to the hospital, where he died a week later after his family took him off life support.
“The officer should be arrested and held accountable,” attorney Lara Herrmann representing the family of Donald said a few minutes after the shooting
Another attorney for the family, Mark Lindquist, said the tragic event was “an unfortunate cautionary tale about what happens when officers do not practice de-escalation. Deadly force should be a last resort. Legally and morally. There were three tactically trained officers on the scene in full gear. They have tasers, pepper spray, and other non-lethal weapons. There was no good reason to shoot Jenoah in the head.”
Donald’s mother, Sue Zawacky, said in a statement that the panel of prosecutors let her family down in a statement.
She asked Bob Ferguson, the Washington state attorney general, to investigate things, but his staff informed her that he did not have the authority to do anything.
“We hope the officers will resign for the good of the community because they don’t have the patience and skills for the job,” Zawacky stated.
According to Lindquist, the $17 million wrongful death lawsuit he is filing on behalf of Donald’s family against Clark County would result in “accountability and justice.”
“What’s clear is the officers unnecessarily escalated a petty traffic stop into a fatal shooting,” he stated.