$8.1M Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Death of Fleeing Detainee in San Diego

Russell was one of three officers at the event but was the only one who drew his firearm, prosecutors noted

NBC 7/Bils Family Photo

The family of Nicholas Bils, a detainee who was shot by a San Diego County sheriff's deputy while fleeing outside the downtown San Diego jail in 2020, was awarded a total settlement of $8.1 million on June 20, according to court documents.

San Diego County and Bils' family agreed to settle for $5.1 million toward Bils' mother and $1 million to each of his three brothers, according to the court docket.

Bils had been throwing balls with his off-leash dog at Old Town State Park before brandishing a golf club at a ranger and running away. Rangers arrested Bils on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and for resisting arrest.

Aaron Russell has appeared in court for his sentencing regarding killing the 36-year-old Bils, whom he had shot multiple times in the back while he ran from authorities unarmed on May 1, 2020.

Russell had worked with the sheriff's department for 18 months before resigning shortly after the shooting and was charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge in January of 2022.

Bils was being taken to the downtown detention facility when he was able to slip one hand out of his handcuffs, opened the car door by reaching a hand out of the window, and ran from a California State Parks officer's vehicle.

Russell was one of three officers at the event but was the only one who drew his firearm, prosecutors noted.

California state law dictates that officers can exert deadly force only if they believe it is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious harm to themselves or others.

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