The coroner’s inquest into the controversial fatal shooting of an ice cream truck driver by Henderson police might be delayed as lawyers for the family of Deshira Selimaj seek more information about her death.
Attorneys for the family asked a federal judge on Tuesday to delay the inquest until they obtain an autopsy report, interviews with key witnesses and other material 24 hours in advance of the two-day coroner’s inquest scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
The request in federal court stems from a lawsuit filed in District Court by Selimaj’s family. The lawsuit accuses the city of Henderson and Clark County of refusing to release information to the family. It seeks a court order requiring the city to release to the family before the inquest, among other things, recordings of interviews with the two Selimaj children who witnessed the shooting.
The suit was filed by Zyber Selimaj, Selimaj’s husband, and her three sons.
According to the lawsuit, officials with the county and Henderson stated they are withholding information on the case until the inquest is completed.
Peter Angulo, who is representing Henderson and Clark County, didn’t return messages left at his office on Tuesday.
Selimaj, 42, was shot and killed by Henderson police officer Luke Morrison, 23, on Feb. 12. She had gone to an intersection near Coronado High School in her ice cream truck to help her husband, whom police had stopped in his ice cream truck for traffic violations.
Police claim she was holding a knife and threatening her children, herself and an officer when the shooting occurred.
Immediately after the incident, police said there was a language barrier between the Selimajs, who are immigrants from Albania, and police. But Henderson Police Chief Richard Perkins said later that no language barrier existed. Perkins also hailed Morrison as a “real-life hero.”
Witnesses have disputed the police account of the incident. According to the lawsuit, witnesses stated that Selimaj was on her knees or sitting when she was shot and an attorney said at least eight witnesses claimed she wasn’t holding a knife.
Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said Tuesday that he hadn’t received any information that the inquest might be delayed. He said the coroner’s office, which conducts the inquests, would comply with any district judge or federal judge’s order.
Murphy added that he couldn’t recall an inquest ever being delayed.
Selimaj family lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks to delay the inquest until he had a hearing on the matter or until authorities release the information.
Gary Peck, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said that even if the authorities release information to the family, the inquest will be a charade. But he still urged the city and county to release the information.
“The coroner’s inquest will be utterly worthless as a fact-finding process unless the family gets the information it asks for,” he said. “Even after that, the inquest will be totally compromised.”
Contact reporter David Kihara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.