When an individual imagines a police officer, safety and protection usually come to mind. This image, however, quickly evaporates when officers are the direct cause of a loved one’s death. Following such an event, a wrongful death suit may be pursued.
Recently, police attempted to apprehend a 27-year-old man in New York, known for his habit of digging up cobblestones and later selling them to scrap dealers.
According to reports, police saw the man digging up paving stones. When he realized he was being watched, he ran. Two officers followed on foot. Another set of officers followed him by car, ordering him to stop running.
The man turned down a fenced-in walkway, but the patrol car swerved into his path and hit him. After being hit, the man fell to the ground, unconscious. He was hospitalized and later died of head injuries resulting from the collision.
The family of the man is considering a wrongful death suit. They question such aggressive and violent actions by officers, especially when considering the minor crime committed. While the local precinct commander claims officers were only attempting to block his escape route, the collision they caused was so forceful it left a dent in the police car.
Excessive force is being discussed. However, the New York Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau claims this still looks to be an accident. Accounts differ as to how the incident occurred. One attorney spoke out, emphasizing that the penalty for a minor crime like stealing paving stones should not result in death.
Families need closure when a loved one has died at the hands of the police or anyone else, and may want to contact an experienced attorney to weigh their options.
Source: The New York Times, “After Man’s Death, Scrutiny for a Police Chase,” Joseph Berger and Joseph Goldstein, April 25, 2012