Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Police Officer in Florida?

Yes. If you believe a police officer has intentionally or negligently killed a loved one, then you can sue him or her for the loss of life. Of course, these cases are very complicated and pose unique challenges to family members. In fact, a recent wrongful death case out of Florida made national news for horrifying reasons.

A Killing Over Loud Music

Gregory Hill, Jr. was shot dead in 2014 when two police officers showed up at his home responding to a noise complaint. According to police, Hill confronted the police with a gun in his hand while intoxicated. The officers then responded by firing multiple shots at Hill, who attempted to close the door. Some of the shoots even went through the door.

When the police finally entered, they found Hill on the ground, dead. They also found that he did have a gun in his hands or on the floor. Instead, it was tucked safely in his back pocket. Furthermore, there was no blood or DNA on the weapon, which Hill should have dropped immediately if he had in fact been holding it when he opened the door. As his family surmised, Hill actually did not have a gun when he opened the door, so the police shot him either intentionally or recklessly.

Hill’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit—and won, with the jury finding one officer 1% responsible for the death and Hill 99% responsible for his own death. However, what the jury did next shocked everyone.

$4 to Surviving Family Members

If a family prevails in a wrongful death lawsuit, a jury can award compensation to make up for their losses, including the emotional distress of family members. After agreeing that one officer was liable in the Hill case, however, the jury only awarded $4—one dollar for a funeral and one dollar apiece to Hill’s three children.

Because Hill was 99% responsible for his death, his family will only receive 1% of the verdict. This turns out to be four cents—one penny for each of the children.

Meet with Experienced Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys

Wrongful death cases are some of the hardest to bring—especially against police officers. The sad fact is that many people will automatically believe the police, even when physical evidence completely impeaches an officer’s story.

If you have lost a loved one in a police shooting, please reach out to us today. Call 305-371-2692 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney from Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum.