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City settles lawsuit alleging police misconduct

Police officers in New York and across the country have a sworn duty to serve and protect their communities. While the vast majority are hardworking and dedicated to enforcing the law, some engage in behavior that is harmful to others and potentially violates their constitutional rights. In some cases, victims of police misconduct and their families have no other path to justice other than filing a civil lawsuit.

Such was the case for an out-of-state family whose loved one's death resulted in an outcry from the black community over police brutality. In 2012, the man left a liquor store. Suspecting that the man was carrying heroine, a police officer used a "bear tackle" to take the man down. Police accused the man of swallowing several capsules of the drug; as a result, they attributed his unconsciousness and difficulty breathing following his arrest to a drug overdose.

Paramedics were able to revive the man, but he slipped into unconsciousness again in the ambulance. He passed away at the hospital. While police believed that the man died as a result of the drugs, a medical examiner ruled that his death was a homicide, the result of blunt force trauma. The tackle reportedly broke several of the man's ribs, causing his spleen to rupture; the man's liver condition prevented his blood from clotting, causing additional bleeding.

Following the man's death, the attorney general claimed that the three officers involved in the man's death, who all remain on the police force, followed police procedure. As a result of the perceived lack of justice for the alleged police misconduct, the family of the deceased man filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court. However, the city that employed the three detectives has settled the case for $300,000.

When a loved one is injured or passes away, ensuring that justice is served can provide comfort. Unfortunately, when that harm comes as a result of police misconduct, seeking justice may be more difficult. Fortunately victims in New York and their loved ones (in the event of a fatality) have the option of seeking justice in a civil court even if they are denied it through the criminal justice system. An attorney with experience with such cases can help them understand their options and pursue the best one for each individual's circumstances.

Source:, "City to settle high-profile police brutality case for $300,000", Mark Reutter, Feb. 13, 2017

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