Excessive Force?

By Joshua Longobardy
Las Vegas Weekly

April 15, 2008

On February 12, at 2:15 p.m., the owner of the Deer Runner Albania Ice Cream Company, Zyber Selimaj, was pulled over by an unmarked HPD vehicle. It was the second time that day that he had been stopped by the police for alleged traffic violations.

This stop occurred on Pecos Ridge and Sunridge Heights parkways, an intersection nearby Coronado High School and torpid in that after-school hour. For reasons of principle and economics, Selimaj refused to sign the citation, which accused him of both speeding and failing to obey a stop sign.

Selimaj, 65 years old, called his wife, Deshira, who, after speaking with both her husband and the police officer, arrived on the scene in her own ice-cream truck with two of the couple’s three children beside her, 7 and 11 years old. It was about 3 p.m., some 20 minutes after the phone call, and Zyber had already signed the ticket.

Deshira Selimaj—42 years old, 5 feet, 6 inches and less than 150 pounds—soon found herself, gesticulate and commotional, facing three to four Henderson police officers, with several more in the periphery or converging on the scene. Her husband was in handcuffs, detained by officers several yards away. Her children, too, were a safe distance from the crescent wall of officers surrounding Deshira.

They tased her. Then an officer shot her. And then Deshira died.

Perkins says that some of the witnesses who corroborate the police’s account of the Selimaj case have made themselves known to Jim Jimmerson, the attorney representing the Selimaj family. “I know this because they’ve told us,” says Perkins. “But [Jimmerson’s team] doesn’t present the witnesses that they know exist. That’s not how they play the game.”

Jimmerson’s office says this is not true. Hal de Becker III, an investigator hired by the Selimaj family through Jimmerson, says not only have they found no witnesses who corroborate the police’s side, or say anything that is inconsistent with their 10 witnesses, but also that when they requested that the police disclose their witnesses in a motion filed in Henderson Municipal Court regarding the arrest of Zyber Selimaj for traffic violations and obstructing an officer during the February 12 event, the department turned over only two police officers.

“We gave them all of ours,” says de Becker. “From the beginning, we’ve encouraged all our witnesses to speak to the police.”

According to de Becker, at least seven already have.

View entire article at http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/news/archive/2008/apr/15/excessive-force/.