Officer-involved homicides receive national attention and have made headlines throughout the country in some cases. When American citizens are harmed by law enforcement officials who have taken an oath to serve and protect, many questions can arise as to what can be done to punish them. In Massachusetts and states throughout the nation, police officers may be sued civilly for the wrongful deaths that their actions cause.
For example, if law enforcement officials shoot and kill a person who is later determined to be unarmed and uninvolved in criminal activity, the victim's family may not understand how to pursue action against the responsible parties. Through civil litigation based on wrongful death, the victim's family may secure compensation for what they have lost.
Wrongful deaths based on police action may be pursued in state court, but, if constitutional questions are involved, then they may be better served in federal court. An attorney who practices personal injury and wrongful death law may provide their clients with answers as to how this distinction may impact their claims.
What readers should take from this post is that wrongful deaths can happen in many different contexts and may involve potential parties that are tasked with keeping the public safe. The last few years, officer involved shootings have been reported in jurisdictions across the nation and their frequency has not slowed. Victims of these tragedies need not be forgotten; their loved ones may have rights to seek justice through civil claims based on the victims' wrongful deaths.