SAN DIEGO (CBSLA) — A former San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputy has been charged in connection with a fatal May 1 shooting, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
That deputy, 23-year-old Aaron Russell, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of Nicholas Bils, a 36-year-old man who escaped from a California State Park Officer’s car just outside of the San Diego Central Jail and was running away, unarmed, when he was killed.
Russell, who was walking to work at the time of the escape attempt, resigned five days after fatally shooting Bils. Russell had been with the department for 18 months and was temporarily assigned to the Detention Services Bureau at the time of the shooting.
The D.A.’s office said it would not be releasing surveillance video of the shooting, which is now evidence in a pending criminal case, because “releasing it publicly could jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”
“We reached the decision to file criminal charges following a thorough review of all the objective facts and evidence in this case by specialized prosecutors and investigators in our Special Operations Division,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement. “When a life is taken, we must make decisions based in facts and law, and not ones that are influenced by the status of the accused as a peace officer nor the status of the victim.
“These decisions must be made solely in the interest of justice and not based on favoritism nor public opinion,” she continued. “Every person must be accountable under the law.”
Russell was taken into custody Monday and was expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
If convicted as charged, Russell faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. His bail has been set at $1 million.