Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

A Washington police officer killed 3 people in 8 years -- and faces a murder trial for the last one

News

A Washington police officer killed 3 people in 8 years -- and faces a murder trial for the last one
News

News

A Washington police officer killed 3 people in 8 years -- and faces a murder trial for the last one

2024-04-23 07:59 Last Updated At:08:01

SEATTLE (AP) — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a suburban Seattle police officer charged with murder in the death of a 26-year-old man outside a convenience store in 2019 — the third person the officer had killed in the past eight years.

Auburn officer Jeff Nelson shot and killed Jesse Sarey while trying to arrest him for disorderly conduct in an interaction that lasted just 67 seconds, authorities said. Sarey had reportedly been throwing things at cars.

Citing surveillance video from nearby businesses, prosecutors said Nelson wrestled with Sarey, repeatedly punched him in the head and shot him twice. As Sarey was wounded and reclined on the ground from the first shot, which struck his upper abdomen, Nelson cleared a jammed round out of his gun, glanced at a nearby witness, turned back to Sarey and shot him again — this time in the forehead, prosecutors said.

The case is the second to go to trial since Washington voters in 2018 made it easier to charge police by removing a standard that required prosecutors to prove they acted with malice; now, prosecutors must show that the level of force was unreasonable or unnecessary. In December, jurors acquitted three Tacoma police officers in the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis.

Nelson later said in a written statement that he believed Sarey had a knife and posed a threat before the first shot — and that Sarey was on his knees in a “squatting fashion … ready to spring forward” before the officer fired again. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

An Iraq war veteran, Nelson joined the department in 2008.

The city of Auburn paid Sarey’s family $4 million to settle a civil rights claim and has paid nearly $2 million more to settle other litigation over Nelson’s actions as a police officer.

The trial, before King County Superior Court Judge Nicole Gaines Phelps at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, is expected to last several weeks. Gaines has ruled that jurors will not hear evidence about Nelson’s prior uses of deadly force or about Sarey’s history of drug use.

In one of those earlier cases, the city of Auburn agreed to pay $1.25 million to the family of a different man killed by Nelson, Isaiah Obet.

Obet had been reportedly breaking into houses and attempting to carry out a carjacking with a knife when Nelson confronted him in 2017. Nelson released his police dog, which bit Obet, and then shot the man in the torso. Obet, on the ground and still fighting off the police dog, started to try to get back up, and Nelson shot him again, in the head, police said.

Lawyers for Obet’s family said he posed no threat to anyone when he was shot. The Auburn Police Department disagreed.

“If Officer Nelson had not acted that day to protect the community, there could have been additional victims,” then-Police Chief Dan O’Neil said in a Facebook post after the family sued.

Nelson also shot and killed Brian Scaman, a Vietnam veteran with mental issues and a history of felonies, in 2011 after pulling Scaman over for a burned-out headlight. Scaman got out of his car with a knife and refused to drop it; Nelson shot him in the head. An inquest jury cleared Nelson of any wrongdoing.

In another case, Nelson used his patrol car in 2018 to strike Joseph Loren Allen, a man suspected of being a felon in possession of a firearm who was running away from police. At the time Nelson struck him, pinning him against a fence and breaking both his ankles, Allen was neither armed nor posing a threat to anyone, Allen's lawyer argued.

The lawyer, Mohammad Hamoudi, compiled a summary of Nelson's uses of force and filed it in federal court. It noted about three dozen times between 2012 and 2018 when Nelson sent his police dog after suspects and about a dozen times when he used neck restraint holds to render suspects unconscious.

The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, which oversees the certification of police in the state, has moved to discipline and possibly revoke Nelson’s badge, saying he has shown a pattern of “an intentional or reckless disregard for the rights of others.”

FILE - Auburn police officer Jeff Nelson appears in King County Superior Court, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kent, Wash. Jury selection began Monday, April 22, 2024, in the trial of the suburban Seattle police officer charged with murder in the death of a 26-year-old man outside a convenience store in 2019. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times via AP, File)

FILE - Auburn police officer Jeff Nelson appears in King County Superior Court, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kent, Wash. Jury selection began Monday, April 22, 2024, in the trial of the suburban Seattle police officer charged with murder in the death of a 26-year-old man outside a convenience store in 2019. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times via AP, File)

Next Article

Ranger Suárez improves to 9-0, Harper homers in Phillies' 5-2 win over Rangers

2024-05-22 09:27 Last Updated At:09:31

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ranger Suárez stuck out 10 over seven innings and improved to 9-0 to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to their MLB-best 35th win, a 5-2 victory over the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Bryce Harper hit his 11th homer of the season to help the Phillies win for the ninth time in 11 games and continue one of the best starts in franchise history.

This season, no pitcher in baseball has been better than Suárez.

The 28-year-old lefty walked off to a standing ovation in the seventh after he caught Leody Taveras looking on a 91.6 mph sinker to end the inning. Suárez took a no-decision in his first start of the season before he reeled of wins in nine straight starts.

José Alvarado worked a scoreless ninth for his ninth save.

Ranger bested the Rangers, and continued his reign as Philadelphia's top pitcher this season — no small feat for a rotation that already boasts Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Suárez walked two, gave up a run and lowered his ERA to 1.36 before he yielded to Jeff Hoffman in the eighth inning.

Corey Seager hit a solo shot off Hoffman in the eighth to make it 3-2.

Hoffman got only two outs before Matt Strahm retired Nathaniel Lowe on a sharp line drive to left field with two runners on to end the inning.

This three-game series comes oh-so-close to serving as a World Series rematch. The Rangers needed only five games to beat Arizona and win the franchise's first World Series — after Arizona won Games 6 and 7 in Philadelphia to rally and knock out the Phillies in the NL Championship Series.

Suárez fell into a rare early deficit after he gave up Marcus Semien's RBI single to left in the third.

The Phillies went ahead 2-1 off Jon Gray (2-2) on Kyle Schwarber's run-scoring single in the third and Alec Bohm's RBI single in the fourth. Harper connected off Rangers reliever Jacob Latz in the sixth for a 3-1 lead.

Bohm knocked in his NL-best 44th RBI on a double in the eighth and Bryson Stott followed with a sacrifice fly for a 5-2 lead.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies shortstop Trea Turner took batting practice as part of his recovery from a left hamstring injury. Turner was hitting .343 with two homers, 10 doubles, nine RBIs and 10 stolen bases before he was hurt earlier this month.

UP NEXT

The Phillies send RHP Taijuan Walker (3-0, 4.91 ERA) to the mound in the second game of a three-game series. The Rangers did not name a starter.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, center, reacts after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, center, reacts after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Texas Rangers left fielder Ezequiel Duran catches a fly out by Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Castellanos during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Texas Rangers left fielder Ezequiel Duran catches a fly out by Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Castellanos during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Alec Bohm hits a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Alec Bohm hits a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' J.T. Realmuto, right, reacts after striking out against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' J.T. Realmuto, right, reacts after striking out against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber follows through after hitting a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber follows through after hitting a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper watches after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper watches after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, rounds the bases past Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Smith after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, rounds the bases past Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Smith after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, reacts past Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, reacts past Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Recommended Articles