Cases of police involvement in wrongful deaths have been reported. One example is the wrongful beating of a mentally disabled man by a police officer in North Charleston. The family of Asberry Wylder filed a lawsuit on their deceased relative’s wrongful death and seeks 10 million dollars to compensate for the wrongful death loss. A witness named Randall Blankenship had captured a picture of the confrontation; and stated that the mentally disabled victim was beaten around 12 to 15 times when he had already fell on the ground on his stomach after being restrained, handcuffed, and shot.
Blankenship described the accused as being similar to the action of a carpenter when driving a nail. The witness also confirmed that the victim was carrying a steak knife-sized knife and was told by the police officer to drop the knife on the ground. Wylder was said to be shoplifting a ham from a supermarket. Other witnesses who had observed what happened further testified that the police involved showed exaggerated reactions in their endeavors to tame the victim. The man was seen being beaten in front of Patty Thomas’ mailbox.
When Thomas testified, the police defended themselves by asserting that Wylder did not comply with their order to put his knife on the ground. Thomas further stressed that the victim had absolutely no means to cause the officers any form of harm since they were already trying to beat a lifeless man (onlinelawyersource, 2007). Another case of wrongful death caused by the police was that of 18 year old Matthew Dumas, an aboriginal teenager, against the Police Service of Winnipeg. The January 2005 wrongful death incident was due to the irresponsible use of weapon by the police officer who shot Dumas dead.
The victim’s sister, Jessica Paul, filed a lawsuit against the police officers responsible for her brother’s wrongful death. The family of the victim also seeks financial claim of 120,000 dollars and additional amount for other damages and funeral services. The lawsuit was filed under the Fatal Accidents Act of Manitoba. The teenager was shot dead after being suspected of robbery. Police stated that the victim had a weapon which he used as he confronted a police officer. The weapon said to be carried by Dumas, however, was a screwdriver. The case was reviewed but the officers were cleared of unlawful act.
The family of Dumas was therefore not satisfied with the review and with the statement of the police that there is nothing else that can be done with the case. Dumas’ lawyer, Attorney Boudreau, said that it is their goal to reveal what really happened in the incident as to give light whether the death was due to the negligence of the police or not. Controversies developed right after the death of the victim with regards to racism in Winnipeg. Indigenous leaders concluded that the victim was shot without ado because the teenager was an aborigine. The family of Wylder received financial support from Southern Chiefs Organization.
The support received by the victim’s family, however, was not that great as compared to the support being given to the police officers accused. Grand Chief Chris Henderson expressed his judgment about the aborigine people’s relationship with the city police, emphasizing that the connection between the parties is so poor (CBC News, 2007). Police officers are always challenged when it comes to understanding and analyzing the behavior of their targets, so as to decode what might happen during the encounter and consequently employ the proper tactics.
They are also expected to be responsible in situations wherein they have to deal with a violently reacting target within a crowd. The same goes for riots and aggressive mobs. The methods that should be employed in these situations call for consideration of all the facets involved. The officer should keep an eye on every variable involved while striving to obtain compliance from the targets. While carrying these out, the officer must also, at the same time, make sure that no harm or deadly force would be inflicted on the suspect, especially to the observers and innocent crowds.
Wrongful death of a bystander during the course of confrontation between the police and the target is also a possibility in every situation of arrest. The police officer should also take extra care and should avoid negligence because not only the life of the target and observers are prone to wrongful death in such circumstances, but their own life as well. The citizens should therefore be also responsible enough to comply with police officers since they would also anyway be given the chance to explain their side to the authorities and in the court.
They must also be observant of their environment. The police officers, on the other hand, must be given proper training in professionalism and situational management in order to avoid wrongful deaths (Driscoll, 2003).
- CBC News. (2007). “Dumas family sues Winnipeg police for wrongful death. ” CBC News. Retrieve April 8, 2007, from <http://www. cbc. ca/canada/manitoba/story/2007/01/29/ dumas-lawsuit. htm>.
- Driscoll, P. (2003). Kinetic Impact Munitions and TASER Guns: Two less lethal weapons options for the Wayne County Airport Police Department. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from <http://www.emich.edu>.
- Onlinelawyersource. (2007). Wrongful Death. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from <http://www. onlinelawyersource. com/> Pittinger, E. C. (2004).
- CPRB Summary: TASER Deployment. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from <http://www. city. pittsburgh. pa. us/cprb/assets/>. Stearns, P. V. (2004).
- “TASER: Position Paper of the Police Training Institute. ” PTI. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from <www. pti. uiuc. edu/pdf/taser. pdf>. Wahl, V. (2005). “TASER Report.
- ” Madison Police Department. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from <http://www. ci. madison. wi. us/POLICE/PDF_Files/>.