The Henderson City Council has signed off on a $700,000 settlement with the family of an ice cream truck driver who was shot and killed by police in front of her husband and two children.
The city admits no liability or wrongdoing in the death of Deshira Selimaj, but the settlement ends a federal lawsuit that sought $25 million in damages.
Council members approved the $700,000 payment on Tuesday night along with about 45 other consent agenda items that were adopted in a single unanimous vote. The money will come from the city's self-funded liability reserve.
There was no discussion.
After the meeting, Councilman Steve Kirk said he hopes the settlement will allow the city to move on and "this family can somehow put the pieces back together and move forward. I don't know how they do that, hopefully they can. I'm sick for them."
Selimaj was shot to death Feb. 12, 2008, after she drove her ice cream truck to Sunridge Heights and Pecos Ridge parkways to help a patrol officer communicate with her Albanian-born husband.
Zyber Selimaj had been pulled over in his ice cream truck for minor traffic violations. When Deshira Selimaj arrived at the scene with two of the couple's three children, police said she brandished a knife.
Officer Luke Morrison shot the 42-year-old mother after she raised a knife in the direction of another officer, police said.
A coroner's inquest jury later ruled that the shooting was justified.
Henderson City Attorney Elizabeth Quillin declined to discuss the reasons behind the settlement.
It comes amid unrelated trouble for Morrison, who has been on paid administrative leave from the Henderson Police Department since July 21.
Citing an ongoing "personnel action," city officials won't say why Morrison is on leave, but the 24-year-old has been accused of "inappropriate behavior" with his underage sister-in-law, according to an April request for a restraining order filed in Family Court.
In that document, Morrison's father-in-law accused him of taking advantage of his daughter, who turned 18 this month. The document said that the relationship began when the girl was a minor and that her father reported the allegation to Henderson police.
According to court transcripts, Morrison and the girl denied having a relationship.
A judge denied the father's request for a temporary restraining order against Morrison because the accusation didn't fall under the category of domestic violence, the document said.
Quillin said she could not discuss why Morrison was placed on leave. Asked if the allegations against the officer played any part in the city's decision to enter into a settlement with the Selimaj family, Quillin said, "I can't comment on that."
Morrison has worked as a police officer since March 2006. He draws a base salary of $64,349 a year. He has been paid almost $7,425 since he was taken off the job on July 21.
Per department policy, Morrison was placed on paid leave immediately after the 2008 shooting. He returned to active duty about three months later, after the coroner's inquest.
The death of Deshira Selimaj remains controversial. Numerous witnesses disputed the police version of events in the days after the shooting, including several people who said that Selimaj didn't have a knife and that she was sitting on a curb when she was shot.
At the April 2008 inquest, Henderson police officer Anthony Pecorella testified that the woman had lunged at him with a knife. He said Morrison's action saved his life.
Zyber Selimaj could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and a message left for his attorney, Marc Saggese, was not immediately returned.
A complete list of Henderson's previous settlements was not available Tuesday, but the payment to the Selimaj family ranks among the largest to settle a lawsuit against the city's police department.
In December 2004, the city agreed to pay $350,000 to an 86-year-old man whose ribs and hip were broken during his arrest by Henderson police.
In June 2004, the City Council approved a $224,000 settlement with a 37-year-old woman whose eyes were damaged after two police officers pepper-sprayed her and left her handcuffed to a bench in a holding room at Green Valley Ranch. The two officers were later fired.
The largest legal settlement in the history of the Metropolitan Police Department came in 2007, when $1.48 million was paid to the husband of a woman killed in an accident involving a Las Vegas police officer's spouse.
The settlement ended a federal lawsuit alleging Las Vegas police gave special treatment to the officer's wife after she hit and killed bicyclist Erin Rae DeLew in 1994.
In April, the state awarded Michael DeLew an additional $2 million to settle his federal lawsuit against the Nevada Highway Patrol and its role in investigating the accident.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.