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Grieving family says Downey police killed wrong man

October 24, 2011 |  7:21 am

Michael Lee NidaFamily members are demanding answers after Downey police officers fatally shot a father of four they suspected to be an armed robber.

The man, identified as 31-year-old South Gate resident Michael Lee Nida, died at a hospital. He was unarmed.

Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the shooting. Sheriff's officials said Monday morning that they could not confirm reports that Nida was not the robbery suspect.

Downey police officers shot Nida about 7:20 p.m. Saturday after responding to a report of an armed robbery at a Bank of America branch and encountered a man matching the description of the alleged robber.

The officers detained Nida, but he escaped, running into the yard of a nearby house, sheriff's officials said. Police surrounded the area but Nida ran again, stopping near the intersection of Imperial Highway and Paramount Boulevard, where police captured him again.

He escaped a second time, leading officers on a short foot pursuit. As officers chased Nida, he stopped and turned toward police "in an aggressive manner," sheriff's officials said. Fearing he was armed, officers fired five shots, striking him.

Paramedics rushed Nida to a nearby hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Sheriff's detectives, who are already investigating an Oct. 12 fatal shooting by Downey officers, did not find a weapon on Nada.

Family members say he was not involved in the robbery, but was rather buying gas with his wife when he was approached by officers as he crossed the street.

"They shot him two times in the back, once in the chest, once in the shoulder, once in the wrist — five times for a person who had no weapon," Nida's mother, Jean Thaxton, told  KTLA.

Thaxton said she wants to know why officers did not use a Taser first.

Nida was married for 14 years with four children. His birthday would have been Tuesday.

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-- KTLA News and Abby Sewell

Photo: Michael Lee Nida. Credit: Family photo via KTLA News

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