Over the past couple of decades, cases of alleged police brutality and misconduct have made headlines across the United States. Our nation’s poor and minority communities have long spoken out against wrongful arrests, excessive force, and wrongful deaths allegedly perpetrated by police officers, but the smartphone era has made it much easier to provide concrete evidence of these misdeeds in recent years. A recent case involving a mentally ill man being shot and killed by the NYPD has shed light on another issue involving police violence – the alleged inability to properly handle incidents involving emotionally disturbed individuals. That man’s family has recently announced plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Does The Shooting Death Of A Schizophrenic Person Constitute Wrongful Death?
This week, the attorney representing the family of a schizophrenic man who was shot and killed by an NYPD officer has announced plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, alleging the officer involved in the shooting was not trained in how to properly handle interactions with emotionally disturbed people. The man’s mother called the police for help dealing with her son, who was behaving erratically in their Flatbush Gardens home. But after four officers arrived at the home, the situation quickly turned deadly.
According to the family’s attorney, the officer who shot the man was the only one on the scene who had not been trained in how to respond to this type of situation. He also told the NY Daily News that less than 20% of the NYPD police force has received training for handling emotionally disturbed individuals.
The same law firm represents the families of four other emotionally disturbed New Yorkers who have been killed in altercations with the NYPD since 2016. These cases are based on the premise that the department’s failure to properly train all of their officers in the proper ways to safely resolve altercations with the mentally disturbed amounts to negligence.
When Can The Police Be Sued For Negligence?
We’re all aware of the difficult, stressful, and dangerous nature of police work. Police officers routinely respond to situations involving potentially dangerous individuals and are required to think and act quickly. However, proper training can greatly reduce the risk of causing the unnecessary injury, emotional distress, or death of civilians. Sometimes, the police act in a way that causes such unnecessary harm, which can amount to negligence.
Some examples of police negligence which could constitute a basis for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Excessive Force – When a police officer exerts an amount of force which is unnecessary for fulfilling their job duties, they may be held liable for excessive force. Examples include physically injuring a suspect who has already been subdued, unnecessary use of pepper spray or tasers, or shooting someone who is unarmed.
- Reckless Driving – Sometimes, police are required to speed, weave through traffic, and run red lights while responding to emergency calls. But in other situations, police abuse their power on the roads and drive unnecessarily recklessly, which can lead to a car accident. Victims of such accidents could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the police.
- Negligence In Police Custody – When an individual is detained in police custody, the police have a responsibility to make sure that person is safe from any preventable harm. For example, diabetics must be provided with insulin and other prisoners or detainees with medical conditions must receive the care they require. If the police fail to meet this responsibility and the prisoner or detainee dies, the department may be held liable for wrongful death.
What Should I Do If I Or A Loved One Has Been The Victim Of Police Misconduct?
If you or someone you love has become the victim of police misconduct or police brutality, it’s important to be aware of and exercise your legal rights. First, you should seek medical attention for your injuries. Next, you should document your incident as much as possible. Finally, you should contact an experienced New York personal injury lawyer who can analyze the details of your case, determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit, and help you begin the process for holding the police accountable for their misconduct.
Our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers are here to guide you through this process and help your family get the justice you deserve. To learn more about your legal options, get in touch with us for a free consultation.