North Las Vegas must pay $550K in police shooting case

North Las Vegas Police Department

North Las Vegas must pay more than a half-million dollars to a man who was shot by a police sergeant in 2017.

A jury in federal court decision late last month that Sgt. Michael Booker of the North Las Vegas Police Department violated Phillip Murry’s 4th Amendment rights when he shot Murry in the foot during a traffic stop.

On Feb. 28, the jury set damages at $550,000.

“It’s significant because it totally rebuts what the department and what Booker maintained all through the case, that this was an accident,” said Peter Goldstein, who represented Murry in the case.

Murry claimed that on Jan. 3, 2017, he was driving on Ellis Street, west of a barricade situation, when he was stopped and shot in the foot by Booker.

According to the lawsuit, Murry was on his way home after buying groceries and did not know about the activity from the barricade. He was stopped after slowly trying to pass a police vehicle in the street with its lights off, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2017, suggested Booker did not know he shot Murry, claiming Booker continued to question and accuse Murry of acting suspiciously and crossing a police barricade. Before an ambulance arrived, Murry was forced to sit handcuffed on the curb, according to the lawsuit.

After the shooting, a department spokesman said the officer shot his gun after he perceived a threat. The department later said the shooting was accidental.

The jury found Booker’s actions constituted an unreasonable seizure, excessive force, and negligence. The jury also found the department liable for battery and false imprisonment.

In a statement, North Las Vegas said it is disappointed in the outcome of the case but is sticking to the assertion that the shooting was accidental and that Booker had cause to investigate Murry.

“Regardless, the City respects the jury’s decision, and will move forward from here,” City Attorney Micaela Moore said in the statement.

This is the fourth time since October that the department has paid for a shooting. The three other shootings, which occurred between 2011 and 2013, all resulted in settlements. The City Council voted in December to pay the family of Fernando Sauceda, who was killed by police, nearly $400,000 to end a lawsuit. The city also settled two separate cases stemming from shootings involving dogs.