Police officers have a duty to protect the public. In extreme cases, this duty includes using deadly force against someone who is an immediate threat to someone else’s life. However, this does not give police officers unlimited use of deadly force. If a police officer in Illinois kills your loved one, then you may be able to take legal action.
Police Brutality Wrongful Death Cases
Police officers may be legally responsible for wrongful deaths that they cause. Depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death, you may have a federal claim, a state claim, or both types of claims.
Federal Police Brutality Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A federal civil rights law, commonly referred to as Section 1983, allows United States residents to sue the government when someone acting on behalf of the government deprives the resident of ”… rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws…”
Local and state police officers are acting on behalf of the government when they perform their job duties.
If the police officers use excessive force in a way that violates the United States Constitution, for example, then a federal lawsuit may be brought. Potential constitutional violations include violating the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures and violating the Eighth Amendment, which protects people from cruel and unusual punishments.
It will be up to the court to decide if the police officer’s use of force was excessive given all of the circumstances of the specific incident. The court may consider how likely it was for the police officer to think someone was in immediate danger and whether the officer tried, or should have tried, other means such as verbal warnings or non-lethal contact before taking someone’s life.
Ultimately, the jury or judge will decide whether there is clear and convincing evidence that a federal law was violated when your loved one was killed.
Illinois Police Brutality Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Even if there is no violation of Section 1983 or other federal laws, the family of someone who was killed by a police officer may be able to bring a negligence action against a police officer. If you have both a federal claim and a state claim, then your wrongful death case will likely be heard in federal court.
What to Do If a Police Officer Kills Your Loved One
You need to act quickly if a police officer in Illinois killed your loved one. Your time to pursue a police brutality claim is limited by law. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact our experienced police brutality lawyers as soon as possible for a free, no-obligation consultation. Let us investigate what happened to our loved one and advise you of your rights. Police brutality cases are complicated, and you deserve to have all of the facts about your potential wrongful death lawsuit before you decide whether or not you should pursue a claim.
If you decide to pursue a wrongful death claim, then our lawyers will fight for your fair recovery of medical expenses incurred prior to death, funeral costs, past and future lost income, pain, suffering, and other damages. No amount of money will bring your loved one back, but a lawsuit will compensate your family for the financial loss that you’ve suffered, it will hold the police officer accountable, it may discourage future incidents of excessive force, and it may protect other people and their families from unnecessary suffering.
Your loved one may, or may not, have been breaking the law at the time of his death. However, if the police officer used unreasonable, unnecessary, and excessive force that caused your loved one’s death, then you may still have a wrongful death case against the police despite your loved one’s mistakes. To learn more about your rights, please fill out our online contact form or call our experienced police brutality lawyers directly to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.