Police shootings may be more common than most members of the general public realize. While officers do need to use their firearms in certain dangerous situations, there are also many mistakes made. This can include scenarios where people are shot for innocent actions that are misinterpreted by the police, or situations that could be resolved without resorting to violence. A recent study from the Tampa Bay Times demonstrates just how widespread the problem of police using their guns before properly assessing a situation has become.
Report on the frequency of police shootings in Florida
The Tampa Bay Times published the results of a lengthy study about police involved shootings in Florida from 2009 to 2014. Some of the more disappointing details include deaths of unarmed victims, a disproportionate number of black victims, people shot during traffic stops because officers mistakenly assumed they were reaching for a weapon, as well as some deaths that occurred as a result of victims being shot in the back during flight.
One of the highlights of the investigation included an incident where a 23 year old man was fatally shot shortly after a traffic stop began as he was attempting to place the car’s transmission into park as commanded by the two police officers on the scene. The publication of events such as this in the report would tend to suggest that police may need to be re-trained to only use their firearms as a last resort. There should be some other measures in place that would prevent shootings from occurring so frequently.
How to file a complaint or a lawsuit
The departments that employ officers along with state agencies such as the FDLE do have procedures in place to investigate shootings and other claims of excessive use of force. When someone has been injured or mistreated the victim or their family can file a formal claim which will be investigated by internal affairs or another relevant administrative body. The best case scenario for a victim is that an officer will be terminated from their position or criminally charged for an illegal shooting. However, in most cases, the officers will not be severely punished without clear and apparent evidence of obvious misconduct, such as video evidence of a detained person being beaten or shot. This is because the departments usually give their officers a lot of discretion in terms of how they handle any situation where there is the potential for violence. Victims will also not receive any kind of money at all by reporting misconduct to relevant law enforcement agencies.
The best remedy for a victim in these situations is to retain their own lawyer. An attorney who specializes in police brutality claims has a number of options available to them in terms of civil lawsuits. They can file claims for excessive use of force and violations of civil rights if someone is injured as the result of a police beating or shooting. There are also special kinds of lawsuits that can be brought when someone is killed by negligent or reckless police actions. Depending on the facts of each individual case, these lawsuits can be worth large sums of money, as some departments will agree to settlements to prevent further damage to their reputations. A lawyer can also discuss specific concerns with a victim, whereas the administrative procedures in place in police departments give the victim no control after an initial complaint is filed.
Get help from a police brutality lawyer in Tampa
If you have been shot, harassed, or otherwise injured by police officers in Tampa Florida or anywhere nearby, there is legal help available. An attorney who specializes in filing lawsuits against police departments can speak with you and proceed with a case on your behalf.