Auburn police officer pleads not guilty to murder charges, placed on house arrest

Aug 24, 2020, 10:13 AM | Updated: 10:41 am

Auburn police officer...

Supporters of Jesse Sarey gathered in August of 2020 outside the Kent Regional Justice Center where officer Jeff Nelson was arraigned. (KIRO Radio/Hanna Scott)

(KIRO Radio/Hanna Scott)

An Auburn police officer charged with second-degree murder has been placed on house arrest at $500,000 bail.

Officer Jeff Nelson is accused of punching Jesse Sarey seven times, shooting him in the torso, and then shooting him in the head during an arrest and confrontation in 2019.

King County Prosecutor charges Auburn police officer with second-degree murder

Supporters of Sarey gathered Monday outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent where Nelson was arraigned.

“Today is making history in the state of Washington,” said Sarey’s foster mother to the crowd. “The first police officer in 30 years has been arrested and charged.”

Not only is this the first case charged under the state’s new police accountability law, I-940, but also the first cop charged in a deadly use of force case in King County in more than 30 years. That is a huge deal, according to police accountability activist Katrina Johnson, whose cousin Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle police.

“Knowing that my family will never see this kind of justice, it’s really, really amazing to see it happen for another family. And when one family wins, all families win,” Johnson said.

The fatal incident in 2019 was Nelson’s third time killing someone on the job in nine years.

The defense and the prosecution argued Monday that Nelson should be released, but the judge said officers should not receive special treatment.

KIRO Radio reporter Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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Auburn police officer pleads not guilty to murder charges, placed on house arrest