Deadly Police Misconduct

When you think of police misconduct resulting in wrongful death, the first thing that probably comes to mind is police brutality causing the death of a suspect. Excessive force is a very real and dangerous problem, but it is not the only type of police misconduct which can turn fatal, and crime suspects are not the only victims who die at the hands of negligent, reckless, or overzealous officers. In many cases innocent bystanders, children, and even other officers are put in harm’s way.


Car chases

Car chases are dangerous for everyone on the road including pedestrians. About 40% of police chases end in an accident, with about one percent resulting in death.


Officers must weigh the risk of engaging in a chase against the likelihood that the suspect will go on to commit a violent crime if not caught. Some departments have implemented strict policies which only allow an officer to engage in a high speed chase when a violent felony is suspected, but some still allow extreme pursuits for minor offenses such as expired license plates.



Police shootings can end in the wrongful death of a suspect or of an innocent bystander. Police officers have the right to shoot under certain circumstances, and the suspect does not actually have to be armed the officer merely had to believe that he or she was armed, but officers have a duty to assess the risk to the general public and to other officers before firing. Wrongful death in the fatal shooting of a suspect can be difficult to prove, but when proven the consequences are very severe.


Denial of medical care

Police officers have a duty to provide immediate access to medical treatment when a suspect in custody is injured, needs medication, or is experiencing a medical emergency. This can be due to injuries caused during the arrest or a pre-existing condition of which the officer is made aware. Officers who refuse or delay medical treatment can be held responsible for wrongful death.


“Non-lethal” weapons

Some of the so-called “non-lethal” weapons that police use to subdue suspects are actually well known for their deadly effects. Pepper spray can cause a person to stop breathing, cardiac arrest, and sudden death. Some departments have stopped using Tasers altogether because they can cause heart attacks and death, as well as other serious injuries. In some cases wrongful death is caused by misuse of the weapon. In other cases the device is defective.


Excessive force

Inappropriate restraint techniques can cause positional asphyxia, resulting in death. Police departments have a duty to train their officers safe and appropriate restrain methods to avoid unnecessary injury and death.


While police officers have the right to use as much force as is necessary to subdue a resisting suspect, they do not have a right to beat or physically punish a suspect who is physically under control.


Responsible parties

Lawsuits stemming from police misconduct can be very complicated. You need the help of an experienced police abuse attorney who knows how to investigate and prove your case. Multiple responsible parties may be involved including:

· Police officers

· Police departments

· Product manufacturers

If a loved one in your family has been seriously injured or killed as a result of what you believe was inappropriate police conduct in Maryland, Washington DC, or Virginia, contact the law offices of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel P.C. The police brutality lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel P.C. will examine your case and consult with you to determine what damages may be entitled to recover at no cost to you.