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January 30, 2015

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City in settlement talks over ice cream truck driver’s shooting

Deshira Selimaj funeral

Zyber Selimaj stands next to his wife's coffin during the memorial service for Deshira Selimaj at the Islamic Society of Nevada in Las Vegas Thursday, Feburary 28, 2008. Deshira Selimaj was shot and killed by a Henderson police officer at the scene of a traffic stop near Coronado High School in Henderson. Launch slideshow »

Henderson Police Press Conference

On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, Chief Richard Perkins of the Henderson police department, held a press conference to address the shooting of 42-year-old Deshira Selimaj by police officer Luke Morrison.

Settlement talks are under way in a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit over the 2008 shooting death of an ice cream truck driver by a Henderson police officer.

Federal court records in Las Vegas show attorneys for Zyber Selimaj, who is suing the city over the death of his wife, and lawyers for the city of Henderson informed the court July 23 that they are in the process of finalizing a settlement.

Because of the settlement talks, a hearing in the case set for July 27 was canceled and the attorneys were told to report to the court on the status of the settlement by Aug. 14.

Henderson City Attorney Elizabeth Macias Quillin on Monday said it was premature to discuss details about the possible settlement, but confirmed negotiations were under way.

"It's a work in progress," she said.

Attorneys for Zyber Selimaj could not immediately be reached for comment.

Attorneys have not disclosed the potential settlement terms, including whether there would be a payment to Zyber Selimaj, his children and their attorneys.

Besides its general budget resources, the city is self-insured against such claims.

It also purchases insurance for claims exceeding the coverage of its self-insurance program.

Zyber Selimaj and his children sued the city and several police officers in April 2008 over the death two months earlier of Deshira Selimaj, who was shot during an incident after a traffic stop.

A Clark County Coroner's jury found the shooting by officer Luke Morrison to be justified after Morrison and other officers testified Deshira Selimaj threatened them with a knife.

The complaint alleges the civil rights of the family were violated when Deshira Selimaj was killed after she came to the aid of her husband, also an ice cream truck driver who had been stopped for a traffic violation.

The complaint alleges negligence, inadequate training and supervision of police officers, that Zyber Selimaj was assaulted and falsely imprisoned by police and that after the shooting the police falsified their accounts of what happened to cover up information unfavorable to them.

The suit seeks at least $25 million in damages for its federal claims and additional damages for state wrongful death claims.

"The decedent posed no threat to any officer or anyone else at the time she was shot by police officers. At the time the defendant officers shot Deshira, they had no reasonable basis to believe that there existed any conditions necessary for utilizing deadly force against the decedent," the lawsuit claims.

But in their response, atttorneys for the city and the officers denied wrongdoing on the part of the defendants.

"These answering defendants were confronted with a sudden emergency and imminent peril at the time of and immediately prior to the incident ... and did, or attempted to do, what a reasonably careful person would have done under the same or similar circumstances," Henderson's attorneys wrote in a March court filing.

"Any force utilized by the officers ... was a result of the intentional and voluntary acts of the decedent's intention(al) and voluntary resistance to lawful commands of officers -- creating a situation of danger for the officers wherein the officers felt their lives and/or safety were in danger and requiring the use of force on behalf of the officers," the filing said.

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