King County Executive Dow Constantine on Tuesday ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Eugene Dewan Nelson by Kent Police officers on Aug. 9.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office recommended the inquest after reviewing an investigation conducted by the Renton Police Department, according to a news release from the County Executive’s Office.
Nelson, 20, died from multiple gunshot wounds after he allegedly tried to flee in a vehicle while dragging an officer in the 23600 block of 104th Avenue Southeast, according to a Kent Police media release.
Two officers shot Nelson. Police had responded to a violation of a domestic violence no-contact order at a East Hill business. Nelson reportedly ran to the vehicle he was driving, which was a reported stolen vehicle, and started the engine. As officers tried again to take the suspect into custody, he started to drive off, dragging a K-9 officer and his dog.
Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. Under a standing executive order, inquests are convened to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law enforcement agency within King County while performing his or her duty.
Inquests provide transparency into law enforcement actions so the public may have all the facts established in a court of law, according to the press release. The ordering of an inquest should carry no other implication. Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine the significant factual issues involved in the case, and it is not their purpose to determine whether any person or agency is civilly or criminally liable.
The order signed by the executive requests that King County District Court Presiding Judge Donna Tucker assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest. The ordering of inquests is a function vested in the county executive under the King County Code.
Constantine has ordered two other inquests this year into fatal shootings by Kent Police. Each inquest remains open:
• In March, the executive ordered an inquest into the shooting of Patrick Reddeck on Oct. 16, 2016. An investigation, led by the Auburn Police Department, determined Reddeck, 38, was fatally shot in his home after two detectives and an officer arrived to execute a search warrant. The police officers told investigators that Reddeck displayed a gun.
• In August, Constantine ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Giovonn M. Joseph-McDade on June 24. According to a preliminary investigation by Des Moines Police, Joseph-McDade was shot after a traffic stop turned into a pursuit and Joseph-McDade reportedly tried to run over an officer.