St. Louis, MOPolice violence has received particular focus as many Americans have become concerned about a lack of accountability and discipline for officers. In the most severe cases of police misconduct, lethal force is used to take a suspect’s life without proper justification. When this happens, the victim’s family has the right to file a lawsuit against the officers and their department on behalf of the deceased person. 

When can police officers use lethal force?

All police receive training related to the appropriate use of force when a suspect resists arrest or needs to be taken into custody. The level of force that can be legitimately used by police tends to increase based on factors such as whether the suspect is armed or not, and if they are engaged in violent behavior with the officers or others nearby. Police also have the option of using non-lethal weapons to subdue suspects when necessary. 

There are some limited situations when police officers can legitimately use deadly force to protect innocent people in the area. These scenarios are essentially limited to times when the suspect is armed with a deadly weapon and poses an immediate threat of harm to the officers or people nearby, or additional serious crimes. If the suspect is in flight and moving away from the area without posing a specific threat, lethal force is not necessary. 

Civil rights lawsuits

There are various civil rights laws that say a victim of any kind of government misconduct can bring a case against the agent of the government division that is responsible. In the case of police brutality lawsuits, there is usually legal action taken against the officer for acting in their official capacity, and the government entity that employs the officer such as a city or their department is also attached as a defendant. As a practical matter, the municipality that hired the officer will normally end up paying out damages to a victim, which means that police brutality costs taxpayers. 

Wrongful death lawsuits

When the victim is not available to personally act as the plaintiff after a fatal injury, certain family members are given this right under the state’s wrongful death law. Usually a spouse, parent, or sibling will be the one to file a case for various kinds of damages. These financial losses can include funeral and burial expenses, medical costs, compensation for emotional pain and suffering, and any related property damage. The victim’s future lost income and wages may also be considered a part of damages based on their earning potential. 

Finding the right lawyer

USAttorneys.com contains a listing of lawyers in every state divided by practice area. Anyone who is a victim of police misconduct in St. Louis or other cities can use the site to get help from a local legal professional.