$3.25M Settlement For Family Of Man Shot By Officer
There are a lot of these in the headlines right now with local municipalities paying out large sums of money even as sovereign immunity caps damages. In this case, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed by a female police officer who was accused and convicted of first-degree manslaughter and is in the midst of a two-year sentence.
In this case, prosecutors had asked for an “upward departure” which is similar to Florida’s “downward departure” sentences, they just work in the other direction. The defense had asked for probation as opposed to prison time.
In this case, it looks like the defendant struggled a bit and the officer took lethal force. Bodycam footage went against the officer in this case, and it was shown that the officer pulled her firearm and shot the defendant without being in fear of bodily injury. However, the suspect had a warrant out for his arrest, and he was pulled over for driving with expired tags. Regardless of this criminal conduct, police officers must also follow the rules. It is no longer a defense to claim that the suspect was behaving poorly. Today, officers are trained to follow specific policies. If those policies are violated and the law is violated at the same time, criminal charges are likely.
The wrongful death lawsuit
In lawsuits against the government, they work a little differently. The government can cap the amount of money you recover in a lawsuit. In Florida, that number is $200,000. However, if the situation is dire enough and your case is sympathetic enough, you can petition the legislature to send you more money. In some cases, this is successful. This is especially successful when you have public outrage on your side. If you recall, the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor settled for millions. That’s because these incidents were highly visible, caused public outrage, and the governments were fearful that if they didn’t settle the suit, more protests would occur.
The defense of the officer
The defense of the officer was a bit like a defense of all officers. The officer claimed that the stresses of the job resulted in her pulling the wrong weapon, firing it, and killing the suspect. No one actually believed that she confused her taser for a sidearm. However, everyone is concerned that police officers aren’t getting the mental health support they need. Even for officers and first responders, workers’ compensation insurers don’t want to pay out money to officers who are complaining of anxiety and depression. Nonetheless, it’s almost a sure thing that the job will cause both, so first responders, police officers, and firefighters need to be supported. They aren’t being supported. So, perhaps paying that money to a workers’ comp insurer would save money in personal injury judgments backed by public ire.
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