First Responder's Misconduct Lawsuits
Lawyers are investigating potential lawsuits alleging first responder misconduct in their handling of issues involving the public. Among concerns regarding first responders is that a lack of proper training of police and other first responders can result in injury or harm to the public and that some members of the police commit acts that amount to abuse of the public. Such police misconduct--or police abuse, can result not only in serious injury but also death of the victim.
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First Responder Investigations
Most first responders are highly professional and well equipped to deal with emergency situations. Some jurisdictions, however, may not provide adequate training for their first responders, or may lack proper policies and procedures to ensure all activities are carried out in the safest possible manner. Even in jurisdictions where first responders are sufficiently trained, large-scale emergencies (such as a hurricane) can cause lapses in protocol. In some cases, despite proper training and adequate guidelines, some first responders fail in their duty to the people who need assistance during an emergency. This puts the health, safety, and lives of the public at risk.
In 2015, a $7.7 million wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the D.C. Fire and EMS Department on behalf of the family of Medric Mills Jr., who suffered a heart attack across the street from a fire station. According to The Washington Post (6/3/15), although bystanders ran to the fire station to ask for help, they were incorrectly told that first responders could not be sent until someone called 911. Mills later died.
Police Abuse of the Public
Among allegations made in police misconduct cases include: wrongful death, excessive force (including excessive Taser use), assault, sexual misconduct, and battery. According to the 2010 National Police Misconduct Statistical Report (from The CATO Institute), from January through December 2010, there were 4,861 unique reports of police misconduct involving 6,613 sworn law enforcement officers and 6,826 alleged victims. During the same period there were 247 fatalities associated with the tracked reports.
In April, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that the shooting of a homeless man by a police officer was unjustified. Even in situations where the police officer is cleared of criminal charges—or does not face criminal charges—a civil lawsuit can be filed if a member of the public has suffered harm.
The city of Chicago reportedly agreed to two settlements totaling $6.45 million. The settlements involved two cases alleging police misconduct, including one in which police officers were accused of using excessive force against a mentally ill man who later died. According to The Guardian (4/13/16) police used a Taser 13 times on Philip Coleman. Although he died from a reaction to a drug given while in hospital, Coleman reportedly experienced severe trauma during the incident, including extensive bruising and scraping.
First Responder Lawsuits
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