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San Diego County to pay $8.1 million for unarmed man's death

Nicholas Bils shooting.jpg
San Diego County Sheriff's Department
This May 1, 2020, image taken from a video former San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Russell, center, points his gun at Nicholas Bils outside San Diego County Jail in downtown San Diego.

San Diego County will pay $8.1 million to the family of an unarmed man who was shot in the back by a sheriff's deputy after he jumped out of a patrol car.

The county and the family of Nicholas Bils agreed to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit on June 20, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday, citing the court docket.

Bils, 36, was arrested in May 2020 at Old Town State Park in San Diego where he had been pitching balls to his off-leash dog. He brandished a golf club at a ranger before running away. He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.

Bils was in a State Parks patrol car heading to the downtown jail when he managed to slip out of his handcuffs, reached out a window to open the car door, then jumped out and ran.

Aaron Russell, a jail deputy with 18 months on the force, chased Bils and shot him. Surveillance video captured the shooting.

Russell was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced in February to a year in jail, although he was scheduled to be released next Tuesday, the Union-Tribune said, citing jail records.

Bils' mother, Kathleen Bils, sued the county, Russell and then-Sheriff Bill Gore, alleging civil rights violations, excessive force and wrongful death.

Under the settlement, the county will pay her $5.1 million while Bils' three brothers will receive $1 million each, Eugene Iredale, the family's lawyer, told the Union-Tribune.