South Carolina Wrongful Death Settlements for Police Shootings Top $17 Million
Fort Mill, SC Lawyer
According to a piece from the Post and Courier, the amount of settlements in cases involving police shootings has exceeded $17 million in 2015 alone. The bulk of these settlements were paid by municipal insurers, including the state’s Insurance Reserve Fund and the Municipal Association of South Carolina. Eventually, taxpayers will foot the bills for these settlements through higher premiums, and insurers have grown increasingly concerned in recent years about the increase in law enforcement liability claims. Many of these settlements involve wrongful death claims against law enforcement, and the largest settlements involve cases in which officers fired a gun at fleeing suspects, often as they tried to drive away.
The total of $17 million in legal settlements so far this year include $10 million in the 2011 case of a South Carolina officer who gunned down a town’s former mayor. A jury originally ordered the town to compensate the mayor’s family $97.5 million. It also includes a $6.5 million settlement in the well-known Walter Scott <a href=”http://www.bicelaw helpful site.us/wrongful-death-attorney/”>wrongful death case, where an officer shot the deceased as he ran away. That officer is awaiting trial on a criminal murder charge. There was also a $1.2 million settlement in the shooting of a 68-year old man who was shot in his car after a chase. The officer is awaiting trial on felony charges of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle.
According to the article, officers in South Carolina have shot 45 people so far in 2015, only one shooting away from the record in 2012. Additionally, wrongful death and excessive force lawsuits often follow these shootings.
Excessive Force and Wrongful Death Suits Against Police
Civil actions against police officers are brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which alleges that the defendant, as a representative of the law, violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Generally, police officers are allowed to use whatever force is necessary to make an arrest or defend themselves. The jury in these cases has to determine whether a police officer used more force than was reasonably necessary to make an arrest under the circumstances, and an arresting officer is allowed to use more force to arrest a resisting suspect or if threatened with death or great bodily harm.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a police officer cannot shoot a fleeing suspect unless it is necessary to prevent an escape and he or she has reason to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. The fact that an officer has probable cause to make an arrest and therefore to use some amount of force to stop and seize the suspect is not enough by itself to allow the officer to do so by killing the suspect.
There are constitutional limits to the amount of force that a police officer can use against private, free individuals when effecting an arrest. Within these constitutional limits, police officers who use force unreasonably may be liable for excessive force and wrongful death claims. The attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you navigate the complexity of wrongful death actions in both state and federal courts in North and South Carolina. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law
The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability. We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly. Call 877-BICE-877 today or submit an online request to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.