While police officers are often given the benefit of the doubt regarding many decisions they make while on duty, serious mistakes can still be made. A North Miami police officer is facing up to a year in jail and possible termination after being convicted of a misdemeanor for criminal negligence.
North Miami officer shoots unarmed mental health worker
The incident occurred a few years earlier when the officer was called to respond to a report of a suicidal man. He arrived on the scene to find two men in the street. One was autistic and the other was his caretaker. The officer believed there was some kind of confrontation between the two in progress, and he thought the autistic man was going to harm his caretaker with a gun. When the officer opened fire, he missed his target and hit the caretaker. The alleged “gun” also turned out to be a toy truck and there were absolutely no weapons in the area.
The victim spoke about his continued mental and emotional trauma after the shooting. He said he does not believe that someone who is capable of making such a serious error should be allowed to be employed as a police officer anywhere. The officer did reject a plea deal from prosecutors before the trial that would guarantee no jail time in exchange for probation and forfeiture of his ability to work in law enforcement.
What is the legal definition of negligence?
In both civil and criminal cases, negligence is a legal term that means someone breached their normal duty of care and caused injuries to another person. In the context of law enforcement, it is necessary to determine that lethal force is necessary before firing a gun. In this situation, it seems that the officer breached his duty by responding to the situation with gunfire where there apparently was no threat of violence at all. While this may have been an honest mistake, it is also a very serious incident of poor judgment.
What about the victim’s injuries?
Keep in mind that the focus of the news story above is related to the criminal charges filed against the officer. Regardless of the disposition of this case, it is still possible for the victim to receive compensation for his injuries in a civil lawsuit. The medical treatment that was provided after the initial shooting, as well as his continued mental trauma can be factored into any amounts that the department or officer will have to pay to the victim. After most incidents of police brutality, these civil lawsuits are often much more important than criminal punishments. This is because they give the victim the ability to calculate a reasonable amount that will pay for their expenses and other problems with the help of an attorney.
Talk to a local injury lawyer today
For help after a police shooting or any other kinds of police brutality, contact Mario Trespalacios P.A. His firm specializes in helping people who have sustained injuries in many different types of accidents in the Miami metro area.