Ex-San Diego deputy pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter in shooting of man he said was escaping patrol car

California

A former San Diego County sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Friday to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting of a man he saw escape from a patrol car, authorities said.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said Aaron Russell, 25, entered the plea under an agreement and faces up to 11 years in prison. Russell originally was charged with second-degree murder and pleaded not guilty.

According to prosecutors, Russell saw Nicholas Bils, 36, escape from a State Parks patrol car near downtown San Diego in May 2020 and shot him in the back and side as Bills was running away.

Prosecutors said that in the plea agreement Russell admitted he “unreasonably believed that I or someone else was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury. I actually, but unreasonably believed that the immediate use of deadly force was necessary to defend against the danger.”

At the time of the shooting, Russell had been on the force for 18 months and resigned days later.

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