SAN DIEGO — A former San Diego County Sheriff's deputy who pleaded guilty last week to voluntary manslaughter is still being sued by the family of the man he shot outside the downtown jail.
CBS 8 spoke to the attorney representing the victim's mother to get his take on whether that wrongful-death lawsuit could soon be settled out of court.
“It was a significant conviction,” said attorney Eugene Iredale. “I believe that the issue of liability in the civil case is going to be resolved definitively.”
Aaron Russell, 25, resigned days after the May 1, 2020 shooting in front of the Central San Diego jail.
His guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter under a plea agreement came as no surprise to Iredale. The shooting death of Nicholas Bils, 36, a mentally-ill arrestee, who had escaped from a patrol car at the jail was caught on surveillance video in graphic detail.
“The fact of the matter is body cameras, cell phones, and video evidence -- including the video evidence we had here from a so-called smart cam in a street light – shows us that, unfortunately, police abuse has been far more prevalent than many people in the country have been willing to acknowledge,” said Iredale.
The video showed Bils running away as the off-duty deputy, dressed in full uniform, pulled his handgun and opened fire, shooting Bils four times.
“No one was at risk or in danger in this matter, and the use of a taser or simply tackling the person would have been sufficient,” said Iredale.
Settlement talks are set for next month in the family's federal lawsuit against Russell and the County of San Diego.
“There’s a possibility that the civil cases can be resolved. Whether they are or not will depend on the value of a human life, and what the county is willing to pay in compensation for this needless death,” said Iredale.
The attorney said the victim’s mother, Kathleen Bils, has felt a sense of closure, now that the former deputy has pleaded guilty.
“Kathleen Bils is a person who has been in mourning for the death of her son since his death more than a year ago,” Iredale said.
Russell faces up to 11 years in prison at his sentencing hearing, currently set for February 7.
His criminal and civil attorneys did not respond to CBS 8’s messages requesting comment.
WATCH: Deputy-involved shooting video shown in San Diego court (Jan 2021):