No one expects police officers to be superheroes. Try as they might, it is impossible to stop all crime from occurring in any major city. There are simply too many criminals, and too few law enforcement professionals. But with that said, no one expects police officers to simply sit back and watch crimes taking place, either. If you are being assaulted or even shot at and you see a police officer nearby, the expectation is that they will spring into action, putting their own life in danger to save yours. After all, that is their job… isn’t it?
Well, what happens if police officers fail to act? What if their inaction results in you suffering severe injuries – injuries that were clearly preventable. Can you sue? How much money can you receive if you are successful? Judging by a recent lawsuit in New Jersey, it seems as if this type of lawsuit is indeed possible – and it can be immensely rewarding.
Of course, you will need to work with a personal injury attorney if you want any chance of success. Our legal professionals can carefully guide you toward a positive outcome. Due to the statute of limitations, it is best to get in touch with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. Needless delays can prevent you from suing if you are not careful.
Woman Wins $850,000 in Unique Lawsuit Against Police Department
In late May of 2022, it was reported that a woman had been awarded $850,000 after suing a Passaic County sheriff’s captain. The incident began when the woman was engaged in an altercation with her ex-boyfriend back in 2018. The incident occurred in plain view, on Haledon’s Belmont Avenue on the night of January 3rd. Although it was the middle of the night, Captain Edward Akins was reportedly present.
As the altercation spiraled out of control, the ex-boyfriend drew a firearm and shot the victim five times. During this entire debacle, Akins apparently failed to act. Both the victim and the assailant were inside a car. The victim reportedly spun out her car in the middle of the street in an effort to draw the attention of the police, as her boyfriend had just pointed a gun at her. Akins then arrived at the scene, and his body camera recorded the incident from that point onwards.
While the evidence was used to convict the ex-boyfriend of attempted murder, the footage was also used in a civil suit against Akins. The main crux of the argument was simple: Akins could have used deadly force – but for whatever reason, chose not to. The plaintiff’s legal team argued that had Akins used deadly force, the victim would have never been shot.
In his defense, Akins stated that he hesitated because he was afraid that he might hit an innocent bystander with a stray bullet. He also insisted that he never actually had a clear shot at the assailant.
While $850,000 might seem like a lot of money (and it is), the settlement could have been much more significant. An arbitrator recommended a settlement of $4 million at one point, split equally between the assailant and the police department. Even if the assailant had been unable to pay, the victim would have received more than double from the police.
Failure to Act Can be a Type of Police Misconduct
It is important to note that “failing to act” can be just as negligent as acting in a way that endangers other people. The same logic applies to premise liability. For example, a property owner who fails to clean up a spill or warn patrons about a hazardous room can be held liable – even though they technically “didn’t do anything.”
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been searching for an experienced personal injury attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Smith & Williams Law Firm, LLC. With our assistance, you can hold negligent parties liable for the injuries you have suffered – even if that negligent party just so happens to be a police department. Remember, everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and police officers guilty of misconduct should be held to the same standards as everyone else. You should also remember that internet research only gets you so far, and a face-to-face consultation is necessary if you want to develop an action plan personalized to your unique needs. Reach out and book your consultation today.