Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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$900,000 Settlement – Death from Police Shooting (Federal Rights Case) starstarstarstarstar

The issue of police use of deadly force is a hot topic in America.  We want our law enforcement to protect us, but they cannot use that power recklessly. Most police officers act professionally and protect those in the community.  When an office goes beyond that, they have to be accountable.

Police should never be permitted to punish the criminal more than the State could if he was convicted of the crime. The law says that police can only use deadly force when their life is in danger or the life of another is threatened.  This case presents a classic example of a “bad cop” who got away with many shootings before taking the life of another unnecessarily.

Our client was the mother of a young man who had stolen a car.  When spotted by the police, the young man engaged in a high speed chase in an attempt to get away.  After crashing the stolen car, he took off on foot in an attempt to flee.  He never threatened anyone.  A police officer who had given chase fired several shots at the young man from inside his police car.  The young man was unarmed and was scaling a fence with his back to the officer when he was fatally shot.  A federal civil rights case was brought by John Elliott Leighton on behalf of the man’s mother against the police department for the young man’s wrongful death. Leighton proved that the man was unarmed, was running away from the police, and that the police officer violated policies when he fired from a police car. The case was settled for $900,000.

Leighton proved that the police officer in question had a long history of abusive conduct.  He had been involved in several police shootings prior to this one, including one in which he had shot a security guard.  He had been identified as the police officer with the most shootings east of the Mississippi River. Each prior shooting was ultimately “justified” by the police department and he remained on the street.  This case is an example of how the civil justice system can bring to light the abuses that can happen when the wrong person is given a badge and a gun.  While most police officers are hard working men and women who risk their lives everyday, this one was different.  He was someone who should have been identified early as a risk to the public.  Unfortunately it took several shootings and the loss of a young man’s life to finally change this.

Leighton Law is committed to helping people who have suffered abuse at the hands of the government or business establishment and have been injured or lost a loved one.

Disclaimer: The information about past verdicts and settlements of the firm’s cases are based on the unique facts of each case. These amounts reflect the gross recovery in each case (before attorneys fees, expenses and medical costs are deducted). Although these results were obtained by our firm, they may not indicate the success or value of any other case. By clicking on Verdicts and Settlements you are acknowledging that each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The information contained here has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.