Wrongful Death by Police
Law enforcement officers have the legal authority to use violence and force – including deadly force, such as a firearm – when it is reasonably necessary to protect themselves and others in the performance of their duties. Unfortunately, many police officers take advantage of their positions of power and authority to harass, mistreat, abuse and brutalize victims. They may commit crimes such as police brutality, assault and even manslaughter.
When the police tragically and wrongfully kill someone, family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the law enforcement agency in California.
When Are the Police Allowed to Use Deadly Force?
In recent years, there has been an upswing in the number of controversies, news stories and protests regarding police violence and brutality. This is due in part to highly publicized cases where police brutality resulted in the unwarranted death of a victim, such as the tragic death of George Floyd. In this case, three former Minneapolis police officers were convicted of federal civil rights violations in connection with Floyd’s death.
According to recent statistics, 1,136 people were killed by law enforcement officers in 2021. An average of 1,101 people are killed each year. Police shootings are the most common cause of death (97 percent). While police officers are allowed to use deadly force when it is justified, many fail to meet this requirement and are guilty of the unauthorized use of force. This can give the victim’s family the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. The officer could also face criminal charges, depending on the circumstances.
A police officer is justified in using deadly force only if the circumstances pose a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer. This includes if the suspect is threatening to commit a serious offense that could be harmful or deadly, has a nuclear weapon or explosive device, or if it is necessary to apprehend or prevent the escape of someone who is believed to have committed an offense of this nature.
What Is Police Brutality?
If a law enforcement officer takes a life while performing his or her duties, there will be an investigation by the precinct where the officer works. If the officer-involved shooting appears to have the elements of excessive use of force or police brutality, the officer could face both civil and criminal liability. Police brutality is defined as using an excessive or unreasonable amount of force or acting in a way that is unnecessarily violent or harasses the individual. Police brutality is a crime.
How Do You File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
If police brutality results in the wrongful death of an individual in California, surviving family members – including the decedent’s spouse, domestic partner, child or grandchild – can pursue justice and financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. The family has a time limit of two years from the date of the police shooting or wrongful death to bring this cause of action.
You can file a lawsuit for wrongful death by police in California by contacting an attorney. An attorney will investigate the incident, gather any available evidence against the police officer, fill out the required forms to initiate your claim and file them with the correct courthouse in the county where the death took place. The right attorney will help you and your family prove your wrongful death case and demand maximum financial compensation for the tragic loss of your loved one’s life.
No amount of money can ever make up for fatal police brutality. However, holding the officer who killed your loved one accountable and obtaining fair compensation can bring your family some measure of justice and closure. For more information about bringing a lawsuit for wrongful death by the police, call (925) 433-6003 to request a free consultation at Milanfar Law Firm, PC.