Recently, a Boynton Beach, Florida, couple filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy in connection with the shooting of their eighteen-year-old autistic son in 2012. The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $15,000.
The lawsuit stems from an October 4, 2012, incident wherein the teen’s mother called 911 seeking help to controlling her autistic son, who could be heard screaming, “you’re going down,” on the 911 tape. En route to the scene, the deputy was advised by his dispatcher that the mother claimed the teen had a “hammer and a tree trimmer” and would “hurt anyone who approaches.” The dispatcher also told the deputy that the teen had placed his mother in a chokehold.
Upon arriving at the scene, the deputy encountered the teen, ordering him to drop the hammer and garden shears. Although both sides agree that the teen complied, dropping the weapons, there is disagreement as to what happened next.
According to prosecutors that investigated the incident, the teen advanced on the deputy and began throwing rocks. The lawsuit, however, claims that, after ordering the teen to drop the items, the deputy should have waited for backup or used less-than-lethal force to subdue the teen, but instead fired eleven shots at the teen, striking him in the heart and killing him.
The lawsuit challenges findings by prosecutors and sheriff’s office investigators that ultimately determined the deputy had complied with Florida’s self-defense laws and agency policies. According to the sheriff’s office, other deputies been called to the residence twice before in response to calls that the teen had been acting unruly.
As this blog has discussed before, under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, codified at Florida Statutes §768.16, et seq., certain family members of a deceased individual may seek compensation from an entity or individual that caused the fatality through negligence, recklessness, or deliberate behavior.
Family that are permitted to obtain a recovery in Florida are referred to as potential beneficiaries or survivors, and include a spouse, child or parent, as well as any other relative or adoptive sibling that was dependent on the deceased for financial or emotional support. Survivors are entitled to recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death and the future loss of support and services from the date of death.
Unfortunately, wrongful death claims can arise from any number of unfortunate circumstances, including reckless drivers, medical malpractice, premises liability, defective products, or, as in this case, potentially negligent actions of corporate or government employees.
The personal injury law firm of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. is located in Miami, Florida and has decades of experience representing individuals who have been injured or killed by the negligent acts of another. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or killed as a result of the negligence of another person, contact a Miami, Florida wrongful death attorney at Gerson and Schwartz, PA today.