No one knows for sure what happened in this deadly confrontation. One man was killed by police.
The story began in July, when a man was reported standing beside a major roadway, swearing and yelling at passing cars. Someone called the police, and a deputy was sent to the scene. The man was not armed, and reports do not indicate whether or not he was under the influence of something at the time to make him act out.
What is clear is that a struggle ensued and the first responding deputy fired a fatal shot into the man’s abdomen. The female deputy stated she was afraid for her life, despite the fact that the man had apparently broken no laws, was not under arrest, was not armed and did not appear to be a threat to anyone, including himself. She called for backup, and that is when things went horribly wrong.
His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit to recover medical and funeral expenses, punitive and compensatory damages, accorded under the state’s wrongful death act and survival act. The statement of claim on filing alleged excessive force was used without any justification by the two deputies, who ultimately ended up killing the man.
Faced with two large police officers, the man reacted by pushing them off him. At this point, the female officer opened fire. The male officer used a Taser on the man at least eight times as he lay on the ground, face down, handcuffed and bleeding. No medical aid was rendered, and the man bled to death while the two officers stood by.
A grand jury indicated the use of lethal force was within legal boundaries and therefore no criminal wrongdoing had taken place, and they further noted the officers had not used the proper handcuffing technique. The family attorney argued that such excessive violence and force was not reasonable and violated the man’s constitutional rights.
Not all wrongful death lawsuits end like this one did. The reasoning behind the grand jury’s decision remains questionable, as it relates to lethal force being within legal boundaries in the case of an unarmed man. There may be other factors at play in this case that were not articulated in the jury’s decision as well. Nonetheless, in most wrongful death cases, if negligence is proven, then the defendant is held responsible for their behavior.
Tim Anderson writes for Atlanta Personal Injury attorney, Stephen M. Ozcomert. The firm specializes in personal injury, malpractice, motorcycle accidents, and wrongful death. To learn more about Atlanta personal injury lawyer, Stephen M. Ozcomert, visit Ozcomert.com.