September 2012

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Investigating Police Shootings
Case Study: Police Shootings... An Attorney's Perspective

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October 13, 2012 - Palm Beach County Bar Association 4th Annual Family Picnic, Dreher Park, West Palm Beach

 

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Investigating Police Shootings    

 

Recently, there have been several incidents involving police shootings of civilians. Shortly before the writing of this article, members of the New York Police Department opened fire on a gunman in the Empire State Building. Reports vary as to whether bystanders were shot by police or simply wounded by ricochets or fragments from damaged property.

 

These incidents are devastating to family members and to the officers themselves. The question of negligence by the officer can only be determined by an independent review of the facts. This is problematic, however, since the circumstances of police shootings are cloaked in a variety of internal reports and documentation that are not quickly available via public records requests by non-law enforcement personnel.

 

For the plaintiff attorney, an independent investigation should merit the skills of an experienced legal investigator to assist in gathering whatever documentation may be available. Here are some of the challenges and suggested steps to take to accomplish the objective of determining what happened.

 

First, recognize that the shooting is an "open investigation." Therefore, reports from... Read More 

 

 

  

Case Study: Police Shootings...An Attorney's Perspective   

 

On a hot August night several years ago, a sixteen year old boy snuck out of his home to go out with his friends. Several hours later, that young man was shot to death by a local police officer, who claimed that the boy had tried to back over him while driving a stolen vehicle.

 

These were the basic facts presented to Valentin Rodriguez, a West Palm Beach attorney, by family members the following morning. As the family grieved and prepared themselves for the many details involved in burying their child, brother, grandson and nephew, Rodriguez mobilized an investigation to determine the facts behind the death.

 

According to Rodriguez, police shooting cases represent the most difficult challenges to litigation. "The hardest challenge," he says, "is that there are rarely any civilian witnesses to rebut the officer's version of events."

 

The legal environment in Florida is also not conducive to substantial settlements. Statutory caps for municipalities and county agencies are set at $200,000 to $300,000. And because of lengthy appeals processes, it may take years to actually receive an award, should a prosecution prevail. Amounts in excess of the statutory caps are occasionally awarded by sympathetic juries in egregious cases, but the Florida legislature... Read More 

 

 

  

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At Complete Legal Investigations, Inc., we help our clients eliminate uncertainty by understanding the issues confronting them. We conduct interviews, research, and forensic analysis to clarify disputed facts and identify potential solutions.

Complete Legal Investigations, Inc. is comprised of talented and experienced investigators and researchers with over 80 years' combined experience in the legal system. Our staff is bilingual and comprised of former federal and state investigators, Certified Legal Investigators (CLI), Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE), and a Certified and Florida Registered Paralegal (CP). Working as a team, we provide an adjunct staff that works cooperatively with your law firm or business, so that you can offer your client the very best legal representation.  Learn more

 

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