The loss of a loved one, for any reason, is a difficult event to cope with. However, when a person tasked with helping members in the community and keep them safe is to blame for the death of a loved one, this can come as a complete shock and completely disrupt the lives of family members. Deaths due to excessive force or police brutality are difficult to come to terms with; however, like any wrongful death matter, surviving family members have the right to take action.
According to reports, a wrongful death suit that arose after a former police officer in New Mexico killed a 40-year-old man was recently settled. Based on reports, the incident stemmed from a traffic stop back in February. The driver has a warrant out for his arrest due to a parole violation, and it was reported that he fled from the scene of the traffic stop. This resulted in officers going after him in an attempt to detain him.
An officer was able to get a hold of the 40-year-old Hispanic man by placing him in a vascular neck restraint. This resulted in his death. An autopsy report ruled his death a homicide, indicating that his Adam’s apple was crushed, he suffered swelling to his brain, had fractured ribs and suffered damage to the blood vessels in his eyes, which is consistent with strangulation. This officer was then fired and charged with second-degree murder.
The city of Las Cruces, which was the city the family filed the wrongful death suit against, agreed to pay the surviving family members more than $6 million. This monetary compensation was for the wrongful death that resulted from the traffic stop that led to their loved one being choked to death. It was further stipulated that the city has 30 days to make payment to the family. And while the family has claims against the former police officer and others at the police department, the payment made by the city waives each of these claims.
In addition to the monetary benefits, the police department agreed to ban all forms of neck restraints and chokeholds. Furthermore, they stated that they will host biannual training on de-escalation policies and provide racial bias training.
The sudden and tragic death of a loved one is a difficult event to go through. While nothing can be done to undo the harm and bring back a loved one, a civil action can address some of the damages suffered because of it. A wrongful death action could help ensure liability and help address losses suffered.