When Seattle Police Chief John Diaz announced the suicide of Officer Richard F. Nelson last week, he did so with a heavy heart. And although he had spent the day at Nelson's bedside, he has been told he is not welcome at his funeral.
Nelson, a 21-year veteran of SPD, killed himself on Jan. 5 after his fellow officers investigated and arrested him for possession of crack cocaine. Now, police sources confirm to 97.3 KIRO FM that Nelson's wife has requested that any member of the department's command staff who knew about the investigation stay away from his memorial service.
Sources say, however, that Nelson had tremendous respect for at least one person on the command staff who may be allowed to attend. The two worked together at one time in the city's South Precinct. KIRO FM has decided not to release that name until Nelson's wife comes to a decision.
Nelson will be laid to rest Thursday in Kent after a funeral mass at St. Louise Catholic Church in Bellevue. According to his obituary, Nelson served six years in the U.S. Navy before being honorably discharged. He began work as a Seattle police officer in 1990.
"As a mounted and bicycle officer, Rick devoted his entire 21 year career to making the Rainier Valley area safer for the community," read his obituary. "Rick also served as a Field Training Officer, training and mentoring numerous young officers on the realities of serving in South Seattle."
Nelson was described as an avid outdoorsman whose "passion, jokes, great cooking, and friendship will be missed by many on the force." He is survived by his wife and two teenage daughters.
Assigned to the South Precinct, Nelson had been the subject of an SPD investigation for his handling of narcotics evidence. After an undercover sting carried out by the department's command staff, Nelson was arrested for cocaine possession and booked into the King County Jail early in the morning on Jan. 5.
After his release, Nelson was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail near North Bend. He later died at Harborview Medical Center.
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