If you have a loved one who was the victim of an unjustified, fatal police shooting, you can file a lawsuit to pursue justice and compensation.
Attorneys Brian and Luke Shealey at Shealey Law Firm in South Carolina have experience litigating serious civil rights violations in the Columbia area. Contact our Columbia firm today to discuss your wrongful death case involving an unjustified shooting.
Compensation for Wrongful Death Police Shootings
As the loved one of a police shooting victim, you can file a civil rights violation lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and seek compensation for your loss. These cases occur when government officials violate civil rights, including Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable seizures and searches.
What compensatory damages are available?
The damages awarded for wrongful death police shootings are similar to those granted in other wrongful death cases. Compensatory damages that cover expenses from unjustified police shootings include:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of the victim’s income
There are also general damages that you can receive if your loved one died in a fatal police shooting. You can receive compensation for the emotional distress and loss of companionship that occur as a result of your loved one’s death.
What are punitive damages?
In some cases, courts mandate punitive damages from officers or municipalities. These damages aim to punish egregiously bad behavior and discourage future fatal police shootings. In general, punitive damages occur when officers display malice or reckless disregard for civil rights.
Deadly Force and Unjustified Police Shootings
The law allows police officers to use force, including deadly force, in some situations. However, law enforcement must abide by existing laws, and using excessive force without justification violates the Fourth Amendment.
When can police use deadly force?
Police officers can protect themselves when their lives are at risk. It is also permissible for officers to use lethal force to protect others from death or severe injury. Deadly force is not reasonable unless the suspect was clearly dangerous or indifferent to risking others’ lives or limbs during the incident. For example, shooting a nonviolent, unarmed suspect fleeing arrest is not justifiable under the law.
Issues That Affect Fatal Police Shooting Cases
Our lawyers have experience navigating the complexities of cases involving wrongful death police shootings. For example, police testimony can be very impactful in court, and some juries can have biases that favor officers. Likewise, it is important that you find an attorney who understands the role of immunity in police violence cases.
What is qualified immunity?
After a fatal police shooting, it is common for officers to seek qualified immunity, a doctrine that shields public officials from liability for discretionary actions. To obtain protection under qualified immunity, law enforcement officers must claim their use of force was proportional or justified under the circumstances.
As a plaintiff in an unjustified police shooting case, you and your legal team need to prove that the officers knowingly broke established laws or violated your loved one’s civil rights at the time of the incident. With help from attorneys and investigators, you can gather evidence, speak with witnesses and acquire medical documents and public records to overcome qualified immunity protections.
When are criminal charges relevant?
Sometimes prosecutors bring criminal charges against individual officers for unjustified police shootings. Law enforcement officers can face charges such as manslaughter, murder and assault. Furthermore, it is against federal law for government officials to deprive citizens of their civil rights.
However, criminal charges are uncommon in police violence cases. For these reasons, families and loved ones of fatal police shooting victims often pursue justice through wrongful death claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Discuss an Unjustified Police Shooting With Our Attorneys
Here at Shealey Law Firm in Columbia, SC, brothers Brian and Luke Shealey are eager to help you seek justice if your loved one was the victim of a fatal police shooting. You can contact our firm for a consultation, and our lawyers can evaluate the details of your case.