Nearly all the deputies and detectives recently involved in killings of Black men in Clark County are back to work, and most of them spent less than a month on paid leave before they were back on the job.
According to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, five out of the six men and women have returned. None have been reassigned, instead they have resumed their duties as before, while prosecutors have not yet decided whether the shootings are justified or whether to press charges.
Dets. Robert Anderson and Jeremy Brown and Deputy Jon Feller, who each opened fire at 21-year-old Kevin Peterson Jr. during an attempted drug sting Oct. 29, all returned to work Nov. 24.
Peterson’s killing came after he fled detectives, including Anderson, who attempted to bust him for selling Xanax. The case is still under review by Pierce County’s top elected prosecutor. Peterson’s family has already taken the first steps in filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
According to Clark County Sgt. Brent Waddell, a spokesperson for the department, each case is reviewed collectively by the sheriff, the county administration and the county prosecutor. Officers involved in shootings also see a psychologist.
“With the information garnered throughout the process, the Sheriff and administration make the decision on when/if a deputy returns to work and if re-assignment is warranted,” Waddell said in an email.
More recently, deputies Greg Agar and Holly Troupe, both involved in the Feb. 4 shooting of 30-year-old Jenoah Donald, returned to work Feb. 22, less than three weeks after the killing.
The third deputy, Sean Boyle, remains on leave, Waddell said.
According to investigators, Boyle is the deputy who actually pulled the trigger on Donald during a nighttime traffic stop. Boyle had stopped Donald for a broken taillight while responding to a 911 call about suspicious activity at an alleged “drug house” in the area.
Boyle took Donald’s identification and returned to his car. Investigators say the stop escalated after Deputy Troupe arrived and looked into the passenger window, seeing what she described as a sharp “ball-handled object.” Investigators later stated they believe the object was a screwdriver. Photos released of the objects inside Donald’s car showed other construction tools, spare change and scratched off-lottery tickets.
The deputies told investigators Donald didn’t comply with commands. Video footage of the encounter does not exist because Clark County law enforcement does not use body or dashboard cameras.
The stop turned into a fight. Boyle reportedly threatened to sic his police dog on Donald and punched Donald in the face. Troupe told investigators she used “pain compliance” under Donald’s jawbone. When Donald’s car began to move forward as they scuffled around it, Boyle fired, according to court documents.
Investigators say Agar was present for the encounter, but they haven’t detailed his actions as prominently as the other two deputies’.
The investigation team — led by the Vancouver Police Department — has not yet finished its review of Donald’s killing. Once complete, it will head to a prosecutor for a review.
Donald died Feb. 12 after a week on life support. His family members, who are represented by the same firm as Peterson’s, have not signaled whether they intend to sue.
It’s unclear how much taxpayer money was spent for the officers’ paid leave. Waddell said he was unable to provide their salaries, but said a deputy’s salary can range between $29 and $45 per hour.
Jasmine Tolbert, president of the NAACP’s Vancouver branch, said the public should have been notified the officers were back at work. She advocated for the public having a bigger role in such matters, such as through a citizen oversight board.
“I would seriously question the criteria the county sheriff’s department is using for when someone should return back to full duty after taking the life of someone in the community,” she said.