Wrongful Death Claims Filed against Police Officer’s Shooting of a Child
One of the saddest things that can happen to a family is the loss of a child. When that loss is due to someone’s intentional act—especially a law enforcement officer, who represents the government and its duty to protect us—it can feel like a severe injustice.
One such story made headlines of late in part because the family of the 13-year-old boy shot decided to sue the police officer who shot him, as well as his police chief and the city for wrongful death in their negligence in hiring and supervising the officer, as we discuss below.
Exceptions to Police Immunity
While police officers frequently enjoy immunity if they shoot and kill someone in the course of doing their duty to enforce the law and protect the public, there are exceptions to that immunity. In this case, the family is coupling the wrongful death claim with federal civil rights charges, alleging that the officer who shot the child used a racial slur after firing, and that no reasonable police officer could have actually seen the toy gun the child had on him when the confrontation occurred.
Unreasonable, Excessive, Unjustifiable Force
In bringing claims like these, those harmed by an officer’s conduct not only allege that the officer used excessive, unreasonable, and unjustifiable force connected to the fatal shooting, but that the Division of Police’s chain of command endorsed this force, and that this places the public at unnecessary risk of death and/or injury—not only from that particular officer—but from others in department who arguably have a similar proclivity to use force unreasonably and inappropriately. This is linked to the claim that the failure to properly train, supervise, and discipline the office is an authorization of his bad behavior and reflective of the unwritten customs, practices, and policies of behavior within the Division of Police, which lead to the excessive and unreasonable use of deadly force, as well as racial discrimination against the victim and other citizens.
This Happens Everywhere, Including Florida
Earlier this year, a Florida City Commission provided one family with $425,000 after their loved one was killed by a SWAT team carrying out a search warrant in his home as part of a narcotics investigation. The family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and four police officers involved.
Speak With an Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Attorney
If an individual, state, or other actor has behaved negligently (or criminally), and this has caused injury or death to a loved one, you should speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney right away to find out what your rights and options are. However, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who intimately understands how these types of cases work, especially how key forensic experts are involved. Contact our attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out more.