Wrongful death from an officer-involved shooting
When a police officer violates the civil rights of or acts negligently towards an individual, resulting in unjustified injury or death, he or she may be charged in a criminal court with homicide. However, the family members of the victim may also be able to file a civil lawsuit claiming wrongful death for damages, such as pain and suffering, if they can prove negligence or a willful disregard for the law on the part of the officer.
Plaintiffs in these types of police shooting cases may seek either a state claim of negligence or acting with malicious intent on the part of the officer, a federal claim that the officer violated the civil rights of the victim, or both. A police officer’s use of deadly force without justification adds up to excessive force which is in violation of the 4th Amendment, often cited in federal cases of wrongful death claims against police. Examples of this would be the use of excessive force in a situation where the victim posed no immediate threat, serious bodily injury, or death at the time of the shooting and denial of timely medical treatment to the victim, resulting in further injury or death.
In situations where a police officer negligently or intentionally injures or kills an individual in an unjustified officer-involved shooting, compensation may be available to the survivors of the victim through a police wrongful death lawsuit. However, obtaining the necessary evidence to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit can be difficult.
Evidence in a police officer shooting includes ( but not limited to):
- Body cam footage
- Medical records
- Autopsy report with points of entry
- Ballistics report
- Witness statements
- Mobile phone videos/audio recordings
- Security camera footage
The problem is that much of the evidence needed to prove an unjustified office-involved shooting is controlled by the police. An personal injury attorney with experience in cases involving officer-involved shootings and other police misconduct cases has the necessary resources to conduct his or her own investigation with regards to collecting and preserving evidence that is vital to the case.
Cases involving wrongful death by police are very complicated because they may involve more than one jurisdiction. As such, damages and settlement amounts can vary a lot from one jurisdiction to the next.
Damages awarded in these cases can include:
- Compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
- Civil rights damages
Greg Yates, wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles, is known for fighting cases involving the use of excessive force on the part of police officers, police misconduct, and brutality cases. He was at the center of one of the biggest police scandals in L.A. history, the Rampart Corruption scandal. Mr. Yates successfully represented 60 clients, securing settlements of almost $20 million in damages.
While no amount of money can bring back a loved one that has been killed by police, you and your family may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact our office to discuss your legal rights.