LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Clark County coroner's jury has ruled that a
Henderson police officer acted justifiably when he shot and killed
an ice cream truck driver after a dispute over a speeding ticket.
The dead woman's husband, Zyber Selimaj, was present when the
jury's five men and two women returned their unanimous verdict late
Friday after the two-day inquest. He declined to comment.
Officer Luke Morrison, 23, testified Friday that he had no choice but to fire his gun at Deshira Selimaj on Feb. 12.
Morrison, a two-year veteran on the force, said he fired the shot that killed the 42-year-old mother of three after she raised a knife in the direction of another officer who had made a failed attempt to incapacitate her with a stun gun.
Officer Anthony Pecorella credited Morrison with saving his life. He said Morrison shot the woman after she lunged at him with a knife.
"I believed at that point she was going to try and kill me with that knife," Pecorella said.
According to inquest testimony, a knife found at the scene had a
Several police officers were surrounding Selimaj at the time she was shot.
Morrison spent three years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Iraq, before becoming a Henderson police officer.
Selimaj came to the scene, near Coronado High School, with two
of her sons after she learned that her husband had been stopped
there while driving his ice cream truck.
An officer had issued Zyber Selimaj, 65, two traffic tickets and
testified that he had called for backup after the man began making
Recordings of police interviews with the two Selimaj boys were played at the inquest Thursday, and both boys said their mother was
threatening to kill herself that afternoon.
"Understandably, the Selimaj family is very disappointed by the current shortcomings of the coroner's inquest process," said Selimaj family attorney Mario Lovato.
Coroner's inquests are not court trials. Only prosecutors from the district attorney's office present facts and question witnesses. The arrangement has been criticized because of the close working relationship between county prosecutors and local police.
Police use of force is rarely found to be criminal.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)