The Thurston County Coroner’s Office has named the man who died Tuesday night after he was shot by a Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy.
Joel Anthony Nelson, 29, of Lacey, was shot during an altercation with a deputy. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Nelson had punched the deputy in the face, stole the deputy’s SUV and crashed the vehicle into a passing car.
Coroner Gary Warnock said an autopsy was performed on Nelson on Thursday, but the results of the autopsy won’t be released until Nelson’s family in contacted.
Nelson wasn’t carrying identification when he was shot, so he was identified using fingerprints. Lt. Cliff Ziesemer, of the Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday that people can be identified using fingerprints if they have either a military or criminal record.
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According to Thurston County Superior Court records, Nelson was arrested in 2012 after he allegedly stole a family friend’s jewelry and pawned it. He entered drug court after being charged with first-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property.
Nelson graduated from drug court in 2013, and the charges were dismissed.
The deputy who shot Nelson on Tuesday is a 19-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. Ziesemer said he won’t be identified until an investigation into the incident is completed by the Regional Critical Incident Team, an interdepartmental group of law enforcement officers.
The deputy has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation which will likely be completed Friday.
The deputy was driving west on 93rd Avenue Southeast, at the south end of the Olympia Regional Airport, about 4 p.m. Tuesday when he saw Nelson walking along the side of the road. When Nelson saw the deputy, he ran onto airport property, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The deputy stopped and made contact with Nelson. The two talked for a few minutes, then Nelson began punching the deputy in the face and head. He then climbed into the deputy’s SUV.
Nelson began driving in reverse. The driver side door was open, and the deputy stood on the running board trying to remove Nelson from the vehicle and shift it out of gear, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The deputy used a stun gun in an attempt to subdue Nelson, but the Sheriff’s Office said it had no effect.
Nelson accelerated into the road, striking a white passenger car that had been driving east on 93rd Avenue. The driver of the car sustained minor injuries.
The deputy stayed on the running board, and Nelson continued to accelerate, the Sheriff’s Office reported. The deputy then shot Nelson in the chest, and the SUV stopped in some trees.
Medics responded and tried to revive Nelson, but he died at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office.