Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Police After Death Of Girl, 14
If you run a Google search for ‘wrongful death lawsuit’, you’ll find that a large cross-section of the articles deals with officer-involved shootings. Such lawsuits are much more prevalent now in the wake of high-profile police murders such as the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor deaths. However, this recent lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles police department comes with a disturbing twist.
In this case, the girl was in a dressing room when an officer opened fire inside of a department store. The bullet pierced the dressing room and struck the girl, causing her death.
Police responded to a call of a mentally disturbed person abusing multiple women with a bike lock. Police came into the store and approached in formation. However, one of the officers cut ahead while his team members ordered him to slow down. Someone could be heard yelling “hold up” as the officer approached the suspect. The officer fired his weapon and a stray bullet caught the girl while she was in the dressing room. The girl died in her mother’s arms.
Is the lawsuit actionable?
Well, here is the disturbing twist. In the case of George Floyd, you have the element of intentional malice against the victim. Chauvin was on top of the man for a reported 9 minutes before Floyd’s heart failed. In the shooting of the 14-year-old girl, it’s a simple accident. Generally speaking, government employees cannot be held responsible for simple negligence. The plaintiff must establish that their conduct was outside the range of their government duties. When the officer’s use of force falls within department policy and does not constitute a crime, the family is generally prevented from filing suit against the government.
As such, the family will argue that the officer who fired the weapon was acting outside the scope of his job duties when he unilaterally decided to break formation and fire at will. The family contends that the police officer was not properly trained or supervised and the department’s use of force policy needs to be updated. Indeed, it sounds awfully dangerous to enter an unsecured building and start firing shots—especially when the assailant is armed with a bike lock.
Nonetheless, the government cannot be held liable for any policy decision they put into place. They can only be held liable for not adhering to an already-established policy. So the family will need to pursue the matter on the grounds that the officer violated department policy when firing his weapon.
Obviously, this is a tragedy, but the number of wrongful death lawsuits filed against police officers is staggeringly high in 2022. Officers must be held accountable when they violate the department’s own rules and cost a 14-year-old girl her life.
Talk to a Port St. Lucie Personal Injury Attorney Today
Eighmie Law Firm represents the interests of those who have been injured due to the negligent conduct of another party. Call our Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your case immediately.