Police shootings have been dominating the news in recent months, but they’re not a new phenomenon. Not all victims and their families are recognized. Even fewer get justice.
At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we work to push our society forward by fighting for justice for those whose rights have been compromised for no good reason. When we take your case on, we stand up for the people who have suffered the same treatment in the past. And we stand up for people in the future, who may suffer such injustices unless we put a stop to them.
How Do Police Shootings Happen?
Many times, the stories of police shootings can seem the same. A miscommunication, made worse by hair-trigger responses on the part of the police. Or the use of excessive force, which usually is just dehumanizing, sometimes ends in tragedy.
These incidents aren’t unpredictable. The training of police results in violence with frightening regularity, even when people comply with police instructions, like in the famous police shootings of Amadou Diallo and Philando Castile.
Police brutality occurs in the following situations at higher-than-average rates:
- After a pursuit
- During arrests
- In jails, prisons and detention centers
- Traffic stops that get out of control
- When a suspect is racially profiled
Damages in a Police Shooting Claim
A year-long investigation by the Washington Post found that settlements had a median of $1.2 million in incidents involving police-involved wrongful deaths. These settlements or court judgments were split over the following categories:
- Economic losses: Including medical bills, loss in household income and funeral and burial costs
- General damages: Pain, suffering and emotional distress in the surviving family
- Punitive damages: These apply in cases of wrongdoing, gross negligence or malicious intent
How Often Does Mental Illness Factor In?
Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of people killed by police each year have mental health issues. This is especially striking when you consider that there are fewer than 1 in 50 adults in the United States with an untreated severe mental illness.
Our country’s veterans are especially susceptible to mental illness. More than half of all veterans who are detained or arrested have a documented mental health issue. This puts them at a much higher risk of suicide, and at a higher risk of having a fatal encounter with a police officer.
How Police Can Change the Narrative — And How We Can Help Reveal the Truth
When a police shooting happens, the police department will often accuse the victim of some wrongdoing. And when the police accuse a civilian of something criminal, it’s incredibly hard to prove that person’s innocence — not to mention, get the justice they are due.
Our work is built on experience and expert testimony. We do our own due diligence, researching the incident to figure out what really happened. We interview witnesses and get a sense of the temperament of the police involved. Most of the time, what we find doesn’t match the official report.
Our team of experienced attorneys includes S. Lee Merritt Esq., a nationally recognized lawyer who was named one of the nation’s top activist attorneys by the National Bar Association, and one of the nation’s top civil rights attorneys by CNN. He has represented the families of several victims of police shootings in the past. And he has gotten justice for them.
We utilize expert testimony from:
- Police officers
- Medical experts
- Physical scientists
- Ballistic experts
- Crime scene investigators
- Forensic experts
When to Consult with an Experienced Civil Rights Attorney
While it may seem like an overwhelming challenge to bring a lawsuit against a police force, when your loved one has been the victim of a violent encounter then that police department can and should be held accountable.
The lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt are committed to obtaining justice for victims of violent police encounters and their families, and have the experience and track record to deliver proven results.