Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson. Courtesy photo

Auburn police officer’s murder trial expected to be scheduled soon

Jeffrey Nelson is one of the first cops charged under new I-940 guidelines.

The trial of Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson is expected to be scheduled soon with the case setting hearing set for June 3 (at press time) at Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Nelson has been charged with two felonies — murder in the second degree and assault in the first degree — for the May 31, 2020, death of 26-year-old Jesse Saray.

Nelson is one of the first police officers to be charged under new legal standards implemented by the voter-adopted Initiative 940.

For cases that happened before 2019, state law required prosecutors to show that an officer acted with “malice” and a lack of good faith. It was a standard that King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg called “essentially impossible” to meet.

Satturberg’s statement said the approved I-940 makes it clear “that there should be an increased role for juries to decide whether a particular application of deadly force by law enforcement constitutes a crime.”

The deadly incident occurred at Sunshine Grocery after Nelson attempted to initiate a disorderly conduct arrest on Sarey. After Nelson attempted to subdue Sarey, the two struggled in the parking lot.

Satturberg said “it should be noted” that Nelson was 7 inches taller and about 75 pounds heavier than Sarey.

According to a statement from Satterberg, Nelson reportedly punched Sarey as they wrestled before he pushed the man against a freezer box and shot him once in his torso.

As Sarey fell backward from the force of the bullet, Nelson unjammed his weapon and shot Sarey in the forehead 3 seconds later as he lay on the ground.

“We assert that Officer Nelson’s actions with respect to both shots were unreasonable. However, we recognize that the jury will have to decide each application of deadly force independently,” said Satterberg in his statement.

Independent investigators that examined this use of force incident concluded that “Officer Nelson created the very situation that brought about his use of deadly force,” according to Satterberg’s office.

According to a report from KUOW.org, five people have been killed by police officers in Auburn during the last decade. They found that Nelson had been responsible for three of those deaths.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Two fires in 4 months at vacant Kent house caused by homeless people

Firefighters extinguish latest Naden Avenue fire early Sunday, June 16

t
8 Kent high school students participate in Rotary leadership conference

Students selected for their potential to be leaders and dedication to community service

t
Passenger turns out to be driver in crash that killed Kent woman

State Patrol reportedly determines new information in June 2 multivehicle collision in Seattle

t
Civil suit against Kent School District, board moves forward

Efforts continue to end resolution that excludes one board member from all labor contract talks

t
Firefighters put on special suits to stop chlorine gas leak in Kent

Leak stopped Wednesday, June 12 from tanks at city well on East Hill; nobody injured

Kentridge High School. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District
Weapon found Wednesday, June 12 at Kentridge High School

Campus put in lockdown during incident; principal says no direct threat to students or staff

t
Free summer meals to start June 24 in Kent School District

Meals available for children 18 and under at select schools, apartments, parks and community centers

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Man faces assault charge after attack at Kent auto repair shop

Dispute over lack of payment for repairs reportedly led to man punching, kicking employee in head

t
Kent Police Blotter: May 28 to June 10

Incidents include robberies at Walgreens, 7-Eleven; assaults, shots fired

t
Kent School District’s Class of 2024 high school graduates | Photos

Kent-Meridian, Kentlake, Kentridge, Kentwood, Kent Laboratory Academy graduated last weekend

Renton Police respond June 5 to a fatal shooting outside the Big 5 Sporting Goods store on South Grady Way. COURTESY PHOTO, Renton Police
Man charged in killing of Kent teen outside Renton sporting goods store

Off-duty security officer reportedly fired at least seven shots at Kent-Meridian High student

t
King County’s MLK distinguished service award goes to Kent’s Shamso Issak

Councilmember Dave Upthegrove selects Living Well Kent director for the honor