Former Seattle police chief to testify in trial of officer charged with murder

Jul 11, 2022, 1:50 PM | Updated: Jul 18, 2022, 8:17 am

Photo from KIRO 7...

Photo from KIRO 7

Former interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel will be a key witness for the prosecution in the murder trial of Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson.

King County Prosecutors will bring Pugel to the stand to examine more than 70 use-of-force incidents involving Nelson, a former K-9 officer in Auburn and an Iraq War veteran.

Pugel detailed 17 of the incidents in a report citing concerns about Nelson’s application of force.

“At best unnecessary and often excessive or unconstitutional,” the report read.

Most of the incidents involved either deploying a K-9, a dog specifically trained to assist members of law enforcement, unnecessarily, or using a Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint, a type of chokehold which is considered deadly force by most departments.

According to Pugel, the conditions for such extreme force were often not met.

Nelson is charged with murder for the 2020 shooting of Jesse Sarey, a homeless man known to police who was the subject of a disorderly conduct call.

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

Nelson fatally shot Sarey, once in the abdomen and once in the head.

According to a review of the surveillance footage during the confrontation, Nelson pinned Sarey to an ice freezer and shot him in the abdomen. While Sarey was slumped over against the ice machine, after the initial shot Nelson cleared a jammed round out of his gun, extended his weapon and shot him in the head.

Nelson is the first officer to be charged with murder under I-940, the state’s new police deadly force law. Among other things, the law removes the requirement to prove an officer acted with malice to prove murder.

Prosecutors highlight several examples in court filings in the hopes of convincing the court to allow evidence via Pugel they say shows a pattern of escalating minor incidents into significant force situations.

Nelson has been involved in two other fatal shootings: the May 7, 2011, death of Brian Scaman and the June 10, 2017, death of Isaiah Obet.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

MyNorthwest News

richard sherman...

Frank Sumrall

WSP: Richard Sherman arrested for DUI, booked in King County Jail

Richard Sherman was subsequently booked in the King County jail, officially rostered at the jail at 4:51 a.m.

5 hours ago

Burien camping ban...

Sam Campbell

‘I have authority:’ Burien City Council member confronts homeless outside condo

Burien City Council member Linda Akey is facing scrutiny after a video was posted of her confronting homeless people outside of her home.

6 hours ago

Image: Surveillance videos captured a man breaking into a car and allegedly stealing cars in broad ...

Louie Tran, KIRO 7 News

‘People are afraid:’ Surveillance video captures daylight break-in at Tacoma business

Residents are frustrated after surveillance videos captured a man breaking into a car and allegedly stealing cars during the day in Tacoma.

6 hours ago

Image: The login page for Airbnb website is displayed on a computer on May 8, 2021, in Washington, ...

Matt Markovich

Proposed 10% tax on short-term rentals closer to becoming state law

In a move aimed at addressing affordable housing, lawmakers may give municipalities the option of implementing a 10% short-term rental tax.

8 hours ago

Northgate shooting...

Bill Kaczaraba

Drive-by shooting on I-5 unfolds near Northgate

The Washington State Patrol is investigating a shooting that happened near Northgate late Friday morning.

1 day ago

Wedding bouquet...

Matt Markovich

Child marriages soon to be illegal in state of Washington

The legal age to get married will be 18 after both chambers of the Washington Legislature passed a bill outlawing child marriage.

1 day ago

Former Seattle police chief to testify in trial of officer charged with murder