Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped Jenoah Donald on Feb. 4 for a broken tail light, before the situation escalated into a physical struggle that ended when one deputy, Sean Boyle, fired his gun twice, striking Donald once.
That’s according to a Wednesday update from investigators, offering the first detailed account from law enforcement on the shooting. Donald remains on life support.
The update summarizes the accounts of three deputies — Boyle, Greg Agar and Holly Troupe — who remain on paid leave since the shooting. The accounts are not transcribed interviews.
The update provides, so far, the only details of the shooting. There have been no other witnesses identified to have seen the traffic stop. Neither the Vancouver Police Department, nor the Clark County Sheriff’s Office use body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras.
In Wednesday’s statement, investigators said the deputies physically fought with Donald, 30, and used force that repeatedly “had no effect.”
It also remains unclear if Donald was armed. Deputies noted objects in Donald’s car such as metal pliers and a “ball-handled” sharp object. Investigators said a search warrant of the car Donald drove that night will be executed in the coming days.
A lawyer for Donald’s family responded to the update saying the new accounts show an unlawful use of deadly force.
“The officer should be arrested and held accountable,” attorney Lara Herrmann said. “After a six-day silence, they’re admitting Jenoah had no gun, no weapon, and posed no serious threat to the three officers.”
Several follow-up questions by OPB were not answered as of Wednesday night. Kim Kapp, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, the agency leading the investigation, said no more information is being released yet.
“You have all the information that is being released at this time,” Kapp said. “When additional details are available the (investigative team) will issue a media release.”
Boyle, the officer who shot, has fired his gun at least once before, The Columbian newspaper reported. The suspect in that shooting wasn’t wounded.
Struggle recounted by deputies
The night Donald was shot began, according to investigators, with the three deputies dispatching to Hazel Dell neighborhoods near the shooting. According to the update, a 911 caller was frustrated by a “drug house” that had sourced dozens of such calls since June 2020.
Boyle noticed a bronze-colored vehicle, the update said, with a broken tail light. He pulled the vehicle over near the intersection of Northeast 68th Street and Northeast 2nd Avenue. Donald reportedly presented identification, but not insurance or vehicle registration.
Deputy Troupe reportedly arrived and approached from the passenger side. Troupe noticed a “‘ball handled’ object with a three- to four-inch sharpened ‘stake’” near the center console, investigators said. She told Donald to show his hands.
“Mr. Donald did not comply with this command instead created space between his lower back and the driver’s seat, placing his hands out of view and into this created space and subsequently produced a cell phone and a pair of metal pliers,” the update stated.
At this point, investigators said, the situation had escalated. The update did not clarify what changed in the situation.
Boyle, who had returned to his own vehicle, “was alerted to the escalation at the stopped vehicle” and approached again. Agar had arrived as well, according to the release. Investigators wrote that Boyle “approached the vehicle with the intent to calm everything down and remove (Donald) from the vehicle.”
The three deputies reportedly attempted to have Donald step outside his vehicle.
“Deputy Boyle instructed Mr. Donald several times to exit the vehicle, but he did not comply,” investigators wrote. “Deputy Boyle and Deputy Troupe then tried to escort Mr. Donald out of the vehicle, but he was resistive to this and began to struggle.”
Investigators then noted that attempts at using force during the traffic stop appeared to have no effect. They said Troupe “attempted to gain ‘pain compliance’ which had no effect.” Likewise, Boyle “performed a closed-fist strike” to Donald’s nose “which also had no effect.”
Officers told investigators that Donald pulled Boyle toward his car by his bulletproof vest. Boyle said he felt as though he was being pulled into the vehicle. Troupe, investigators said, worried Donald may “gain access to the implement previously described and use this to assault Deputy Boyle.” The update does not clarify if Donald ever touched the object Troupe reported seeing. OPB has asked investigators whether Donald ever reached for it, but has received no answer.
Investigators also said Donald restarted his vehicle during the struggle. Deputies could hear “wheels spinning” while Donald pulled Boyle into the vehicle. Investigators noted Boyle’s left hand was on the floorboard at one point.
“Deputy Boyle felt the vehicle begin to move forward, and fearing he was going to be killed, he drew his firearm,” investigators said. He reportedly warned Donald to stop or he would be shot. Investigators also noted Troupe struggled with Donald, and said she feared for her safety.
Boyle fired twice, according to the update. One bullet struck Donald.
As Boyle pulled away from the vehicle, the car moved forward and eventually struck a fence at the home of retired 70-year-old Steve Dean. Dean told OPB he heard gunfire and a car strike his fence before he looked out the window.
Mark Lindquist, another attorney for the family, said the officers didn’t appear to use any other non-lethal tactics.
“Deadly force should be a last resort. Legally and morally,” he said. “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.”
Investigators said all three deputies approached the vehicle and applied first aid after Boyle shot him.