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Officer in fatal shooting on leave for separate incident

City to settle suit over ice cream truck shooting for $700,000

Updated Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 | 6:08 p.m.

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.

City of Henderson officials said Thursday that Officer Luke Morrison, the officer involved in the 2008 shooting death of a woman during an incident after a traffic stop, is on paid administrative leave for a separate matter.

The revelation came a day before a U.S. District Court judge is expected to approve a $700,000 settlement between the city and the woman’s family. Fred Horvath, acting human resources director for Henderson, said Morrison has been on paid administrative leave for three weeks, pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. He said a decision regarding Morrison’s status with the city is expected next week, but said he could not discuss any specifics of the investigation.

He said there is no tie between the current investigation and the 2008 incident.

“It had absolutely nothing to do with the prior shooting,” Horvath said.

A Clark County coroner’s jury found the shooting to be justified after Morrison and other officers testified Deshira Selimaj threatened them with a knife. Morrison returned to duty with the department following the inquest’s outcome.

Zyber Selimaj, Deshira Selimaj’s husband, filed the wrongful death suit after the inquest. A call to his attorney, Michael Cristalli, was not immediately returned.

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.

Henderson spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said the city stands by the outcome of the inquest, but city officials felt it would be best to settle the civil case.

“By settling, we are not indicating that there is any blame,” Richards said. “… Given the financial considerations of what it would take to litigate this case, as well as emotional toll, it was in the city’s best interests to settle.”

The complaint alleges negligence, inadequate training and supervision of police officers, that husband 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 sought at least $25 million in damages for its federal claims and additional damages for state wrongful death claims.

Richards said the $700,000 would come from the city's self-insurance liability fund, which is the fund the city uses to pay its liability insurance rates and liability claims that are not covered by insurance.

A portion of the money will be set aside in trust for the Selimajs’ two children, Richards said.

Documents from the Clark County Recorder's Office indicate the Las Vegas home Morrison owns with his wife is in foreclosure.

Sun reporters Abigail Goldman and Alex Richards contributed to this report.

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