A man was fatally shot to death by a state trooper during a chase.
In March of 2010, a 24-year-old father of three became involved in a high speed chase with police, and the pursuit took to a nearby highway. The man was being pursued in relation to a misdemeanor probation warrant, and the two troopers in pursuit called for backup, spikes and a road block along the route the man was fleeing.
While one trooper was chasing the man’s Pontiac Grand Am, the second trooper positioned himself on an overpass under which the fleeing man would pass. The trooper asked his commanding officer if he had permission to open fire on the car. According to the police records of this event, the commanding officer ordered the trooper on the overpass with a rifle to stand down. He felt there was no point in using a weapon to stop the man, as he was heading for spikes and a road block.
The trooper sighted his M-4.233 rifle, and fired at least six rounds into the man’s windshield. The man was hit in the left arm, shoulder, the neck and right shoulder, causing his death. Court documents indicate the trooper on the overpass stated that he did not hear the order to stand down; he has denied that he deliberately took aim at the driver. The police also stated the vehicle’s driver called their dispatcher twice and indicated he planned to shoot any officers following him or any that he spotted on the road.
When the man was shot, the car he was driving flipped numerous times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Subsequent blood tests revealed he had cocaine and alcohol in his system.
The man’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging excessive police force and a violation of her son’s civil rights. Evidently, a patrol vehicle dash cam showed the officer who shot the fleeing suspect telling other officers that he thought he had been proactive. The upshot of the evidence was that a federal judge refused to dismiss the Department of Public Safety from the wrongful death lawsuit.
This will be a difficult case, with a number of areas where the courts will face a decision regarding who they believe is telling the truth. The family may not be bringing this lawsuit because they want to get even with the police. They may simply wish to ensure nothing like this happens to another family. Yes, they are asking the courts to award compensation, but not for the sake of obtaining money, but to help the man’s three young children.
If you have been in a situation such as this, reach out and contact a skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyer. Find out your rights. Discuss how to move forward and what may happen when a wrongful death lawsuit goes to court. You can only move on with your life if you understand the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit. Your Atlanta personal injury lawyer can discuss all the details with you.