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April 18, 2014

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First witness in coroner’s inquest reveals new details

A few new details emerged from the first witness’ testimony at the coroner's inquest into the death of 42-year-old ice cream lady Deshira Selimaj.

Patrick Gilmore, the Henderson police officer who initially pulled over Selimaj's husband for traffic violations, said the Taser that another officer fired at Deshira did not work because only one of the prongs connected with the woman's body while the other prong flew over her shoulder.

He also revealed that Zyber Selimaj was so distraught after getting a traffic ticket that he told Gilmore that he might as well just kill him. Gilmore classified the statements as suicidal threats in his call for backup. The two officers who responded, Jeffrey Wiener and a trainee officer, Alan Olvera, determined that Selimaj he should be taken to a hospital for what is called a "Legal 2000" - a procedure that allows law enforcement officers and medical professionals to hospitalize individuals deemed mentally ill for up to 72 hours.

Gilmore also revealed that he knew of Deshira Selimaj prior to Feb. 12, the day she was shot, from previous traffic encounters. Later, a juror asked Gilmore how Selimaj reacted during that earlier traffic stop, and Gilmore said she had been angry and told him that she had not been speeding, but she signed the ticket and never got out of her ice cream truck during that encounter.

Gilmore testified that when she arrived at the scene where her husband had been stopped, however, she had what appeared to be a kitchen knife and told officers that she would kill them, her sons and herself.

During a coroner's inquest, after the deputy district attorneys finish questioning a witness, members of the 10-person jury can pose questions and members of the victim’s family can submit questions for consideration. The jury asked more than a dozen questions and the family of Deshira Selimaj and their lawyer, Jim Jimmerson submitted about 50 questions that were asked. Many of them went over the language differences between the Albanian family and the police officers, as well as the height and weight of the Selimajs compared with the police officers who responded. The Selimajs were described as short and sleight.

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