Wrongful Death Claim against the Memphis Police

Wrongful Death Claim against the Memphis Police

  • Apr 27 2017

Q: When is a police officer’s shooting justified and when is a resulting death wrongful?

As long as there are police officer-involved shootings and civilian deaths therefrom, there will be wrongful death actions. And in recent years, there seems to be no shortage.

Last year, three Memphis police officers responded to a call from family alleging a man with mental health issues– and a rifle–was hallucinating and having a mental health crisis in his home.  There were conflicting reports of how the events went down that day.

According to the lawsuit filed by the family, the man allegedly put the rifle down but the police did not take it, and when the man thought the police left, he then went to put the rifle away but was shot in the back of the neck by one of the officers who then fired two additional shots–and killed him. The family also alleged that a member of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team –trained to handle this type of situation–should have been dispatched as they were notified that a mental health situation was in progress.

According to the police officer who fired the fatal gunshots, the man and his fianceé were reportedly struggling with the rifle and it was pointed at the officer’s chest so he feared for his life and fired the shots that killed the man as the other officers and family members took cover. The police officer had been relieved of duty for about a year since the shooting, but the DA did not press charges against the officer after a review of the investigation report. It was unknown if he would face departmental review to determine if he followed the department’s policy.

Regardless of whether criminal charges are pressed, in order to prevail in a civil wrongful death action there needs to be more than just a victim. There must be negligent or intentional actions or inactions by another person or entity that caused the victim’s death– and it’s the burden of the victim’s survivors to prove that liability.

Close relatives of the victim may be entitled to recover damages in a wrongful death action depending on their relationship to the victim and the circumstances of the case. Damages may be economic or non-economic in nature. They may even be punitive in particularly egregious instances. Some examples of damages recoverable may include lost wages (present and future), funeral expenses, loss of medical coverage or pension plans, mental pain and suffering,  loss of care, protection, guidance and nurturing, love, companionship or consortium (depending on the nature of the relationship to the deceased.)

If a loved one was killed as a result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of someone else, the experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Chadwick & Tignor can help. Call 615-379-7900 today for a consultation. From our offices in Spring Hill and Mt. Juliet, we represent clients throughout Middle Tennessee and Williamson County as well as those injured or killed while visiting Tennessee.

Posted in: Wrongful Death