Phillips & Associates

Police Shootings

New York City Lawyers Assisting Victims of Civil Rights Violations

In limited circumstances, it may be appropriate for the police to shoot a suspect. However, shooting is only appropriate if there is no less forceful, injurious means of controlling a suspect. For example, shooting multiple times after a suspect is already down is likely wrongful. Police shootings can result in serious injuries or wrongful death. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights attorneys represent victims of police misconduct and excessive force throughout New York City. In general, an injured person can pursue compensation not only from an officer who shoots him or her wrongfully, but also from an officer who declines an opportunity to intervene in a police shooting.

Police Shootings and Excessive Force

Police officers are entitled to use as much force as a reasonably trained officer in the same circumstances would use. However, even those who are being lawfully arrested have a constitutional right to be free from excessive force. In some cases, a police shooting counts as excessive force, and it may be the subject of a lawsuit brought under 42 U.S. Code § 1983. Usually, all causes of action, including false arrest, assault, battery, and wrongful death, must be brought in the same suit.

In order to establish and win a § 1983 claim based on a police shooting, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant either intended the actions that resulted in a violation of civil rights or that the defendant acted recklessly. The issue is whether an officer intended to shoot, not whether he or she intended to wound or kill. For example, if a police officer shoots six times at someone suspected of a non-violent misdemeanor, this is an intentional police shooting that likely involves excessive force.

The children and spouse of a person who was shot by the police and died may be entitled to compensatory damages for wrongful death. Damages in a wrongful death action are limited to fair and just compensation for pecuniary injuries arising out of the death to the people for whose benefit the wrongful death action is brought. Pecuniary injuries are not only direct financial benefits, like loss of income from the decedent, but also loss of nurture, guidance, and care.

Under § 1983, punitive damages may be available after a police shooting to punish a police officer whose intentional or reckless actions wounded a person and infringed his or her civil rights. Punitive damages also may be available to deter future police shootings.

In some cases, police officers or other government officials can successfully defend themselves on the grounds of qualified immunity. Agents of the government have qualified immunity in performing discretionary functions if their conduct did not violate clearly established rights known to reasonable people, or if it was objectively reasonable for them to believe their actions did not violate clear rights. If a police officer wants to rely on qualified immunity, he or she must raise and establish it.

Enlist a New York City Attorney for a Police Misconduct Case

Police shootings can be traumatic and result in severe injuries or a wrongful death. Additionally, multiple law enforcement officers may rally behind the shooting officer's version of events. It is important to have an experienced civil rights lawyer on your side if you have been the victim of police misconduct in New York City. At Phillips & Associates, we offer tenacious representation for residents of all five boroughs, including Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. If you or a loved one is a victim of a police shooting that you believe was unjustified, call us at (212) 248-7431 or complete our online form to set up an appointment.

Client Reviews
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Phillips & Associates did a wonderful job. I would recommend Brittany Stevens. Angel
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Employment dispute I had a dispute with my former employer, Jesse Weinstein was patient and thorough with my case. He covered every angle and was able to help me with my dispute. I would recommend Jesse Weinstein and Phillips and Associates in the future to anyone. Margaret
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I called at Phillips & Associates seeking for a consultation and I was very pleased with the conversation I had with Eugenio Benvenuto. He was able to answer my questions thoroughly and gave me reassurance. I highly recommend their practice. Giulia
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Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day.The other associates that assisted Brittany were Yusha Hiraman, Eugenio Benvenuto and Katerina Housos. They were all professional and answered any questions or concerns that I had. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done. Massimo
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Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues. Karen