05-29-2023  11:55 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
GENE JOHNSON Associated Press
Published: 20 August 2020

SEATTLE (AP) — A police officer in Washington state was charged Thursday with murder after fatally shooting a suspect in 2019, the first case brought against an officer since voters made it easier to prosecute police involved in shootings.

jesse sarey medJesse Sarey (photo via GoFundMe)King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced the charges against Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson at a news conference. He said Nelson shot Jesse Sarey in the torso and head on May 31, 2019, while attempting to arrest him for disorderly conduct in a convenience store parking lot.

Nelson faces charges of second-degree murder and assault. Satterbeg said Nelson will remain free pending trial.

It wasn’t immediately clear who his attorney is -- Satterberg said prosecutors met with his lawyer, but didn’t provide a name.

“He did not de-escalate the situation, he did not wait for backup,” Satterberg said.

“Our decision today reflects the changes brought by Initiative 940.”

The case is the first filed against an officer since voters in Washington passed legislation in 2019, which was amended by the Legislature, that requires that an objective test be used to measure police shootings: whether another officer acting reasonably in the same circumstances would have believed deadly force was necessary.

Satterberg noted that the officer was seven inches (17 centimeters) taller and 75 pounds (34 kilograms) heavier than Sarey.

Community activists had long tried to change the state's standard for prosecuting police, which previously required prosecutors to prove that officers acted with malice — something no other state required. But early efforts failed, leading activists to propose Initiative 940.

Police groups at first resisted, then joined the initiative’s sponsors in fraught talks.

The sides eventually agreed to a compromise, and in an unusual maneuver, the Legislature passed both the original initiative and a bill amending it.

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