Crime & Justice

Family: Downey agrees to settle fatal police shooting lawsuit for $4.5 million

The family of Michael Nida announces they've reached a settlement with the city of Downey for $4.5 million over the fatal shooting of the unarmed man.
The family of Michael Nida announces they've reached a settlement with the city of Downey for $4.5 million over the fatal shooting of the unarmed man.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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The city of Downey has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed man fatally shot by one of its police officers with an automatic rifle nearly two years ago.

Downey will pay $4.5 million to the family of Michael Nida, who was killed October 22, 2011. The civil case was set to go to trial Tuesday, but a settlement was reached the day before. A federal judge must give final approval to the settlement, according to a statement from the city of Downey.

Nida’s family announced the agreement at a news conference Wednesday in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.

“No amount of money will bring my brother back,” said Terri Teramura, Nida’s sister. “Money is not justice, but Downey will pay to support Michael’s family since they took away their provider.”

Downey police were searching for an ATM robbery suspect when they came across Nida at a gas station. He tried running from police but was detained. Nida ended up breaking free from police custody twice, resulting in a foot chase, according to a report, which can be read below.

Nida made an aggressive move toward officers right before officer Steven Gilley fired at him, according to Downey police. No weapon was found on Nida, who didn’t commit the suspected ATM robbery, an investigation later concluded.

The shooting triggered protests in Downey and at city council meetings, where Nida’s family continues to protest every week.

“We are still very active in support other families that have been thrust into this nightmare because of rogue killer cops,” Terramura said.

Last October, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against officer Gilley, who is still with Downey police. The DA's review stated Nida resisted arrest, ran away and repeatedly ignored warnings from police, including threats of "blowing his head off."

Despite the review, Terramura called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting.

The Downey Police Department issued a written statement addressing the settlement:

"The City of Downey and the family of Michael Nida, through their respective attorneys, are working to bring an end to a legal case arising from the officer-involved shooting on Oct. 22, 2011, that claimed Mr. Nida's life. Any proposed settlement must be reviewed and approved by a federal judge. Until that time, the insurance risk pool's decisions for this matter are beyond the City's control."

"With regard to the actual facts of this case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office report is available and provides an unbiased assessment of the shooting. The City invites anyone who is interested in the real facts to review that report."

Nida’s four children, who are all under the age of 16, will receive the settlement money when they turn 18-years old.

The family says they’d like to build a skate park named after the father, since that was one of his favorite activities to do with his son.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Review of Fatal Shooting by Downey police