Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Police Shootings
Many communities across the country are currently struggling with a surge of highly publicized fatal police shootings. While some of these shootings are legally justifiable, those that are not often result in the deceased’s family filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury claim that can be filed by a decedent’s family if their loved one’s death was caused by another person’s negligence or reckless behavior. Recently, a wrongful death lawsuit involving a police shooting in Columbus was filed in federal court.
Victim’s Family Claims Wrongful Death After Fatal Police Shooting in Columbus
According to an article in the Sun Herald, the son of a black man who was fatally shot by a white Mississippi police officer in 2015 recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Columbus, four individual police officers, and a former police chief. The son is essentially claiming that the shooting was unjustified, that a police officer planted a gun on his deceased father’s body, and that the Columbus Police Department had previously been made aware that the officer who pulled the trigger was “a problem”.
The officer who filed the fatal shot claims that the shooting was justified because he only opened fire after the deceased pointed a gun at him during a foot chase. According to the officer, he first shocked the suspect with a stun gun, then noticed that the suspect had a handgun, and finally discharged his weapon when the suspect recovered from the shock and turned as if to shoot the officer. However, the wrongful death lawsuit disputes this chain of events and claims that the deceased could not have recovered from the stun gun and that the officer’s story doesn’t add up as the deceased was shot in the back.
Mississippi’s Wrongful Death Statute
Under Mississippi’s wrongful death statute, Miss Code Ann § 11-7-13, a family that files a wrongful death claim must prove that the deceased’s death was caused by the defendant’s negligent or reckless behavior. Negligent or reckless behavior can occur under a variety of circumstances, however, most wrongful death lawsuits arise from either:
- Car accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Premise liability
- Medical negligence, or
- Defective products
After proving to the court that the defendant’s reckless or negligent behavior caused the deceased’s death, the family must then show that they suffered damages because of the death. This can be shown in a number of different ways, but is often achieved by proving that the deceased contributed financially to the household income. While this may seem fairly straightforward, wrongful death lawsuits can be very complicated and it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible if you are interested in pursuing a wrongful death claim.
Need Legal Advice?
In Mississippi, wrongful death lawsuits can be brought by surviving spouses, children, and parents. If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. To discuss your case during a free consultation, contact the competent personal injury lawyers at the office of Derek L. Hall today for help.