Several years ago, a Californian man was shot by two San Diego deputies. Allegedly, the man was suffering from depression and displaying suicidal risk signs. During a domestic dispute, his girlfriend called for police assistance. Two officers responded, arrived at the scene and asked him to raise his hands. He did so, showing that he was holding a knife. As he stepped toward the officers, they both shot him twice, killing him.
His daughter was 12 years old at the time. Now, she has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police force. At trial, the plaintiff claimed that her father was not rushing the officers and had a vacant look on his face as he stepped forward.
The man’s daughter originally filed for wrongful death, negligent hiring/supervision of the officers named as defendants and further violations of the 14th and 4th Amendment rights of her father. Initially, a federal court granted summary judgment to the deputies. The 9th Circuit court later asked the California Supreme Court if the officers would be found liable under state law. The Court answered that they could be, so the case was remanded back to the lower court in order to determine whether the daughter could file a survivorship claim as the result of the possible violation of her father’s 4th Amendment rights. The court found that the officers had fired only in self-defense, and that they did not need to wait to be attacked to take action. However, they allowed the daughter to proceed with the wrongful death portion of her claim.
Wrongful death cases are difficult for everyone involved, and this case is no exception. Each may take a number of years to be resolved. Often, cases involve larger issues and complex circumstances, so it is imperative to discuss any wrongful death situation with an experienced personal injury attorney. Do not wait to speak to a lawyer. All states have wrongful death statutes that limit when such a lawsuit may be filed. If you miss the deadline, you will no longer be able to pursue your claim.