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Deputy sued for role in autistic teen's death

Scores of Floridians are injured each year thanks to motor vehicle collisions and rollovers, during which police officers respond with a helping hand. We trust our authorities to care for members of the general public rather than wantonly harming them. Yet, family members in Boynton Beach are alleging that officers in the area did just that when a deputy fired 11 shots at an autistic man who was having a behavioral emergency in October.

Now, relatives have filed a wrongful death suit against the local sheriff's office. The deputy reportedly shot the unarmed 18-year-old man on Oct. 4. Even though prosecutors determined the deputy was not liable under criminal statutes, he could be found responsible for the young man's death under the looser standards of criminal court. Family members are looking to recover more than $15,000 in damages for the death.

On the morning in question, the boy's mother had called 911 for assistance with her disabled son, who was reportedly wielding a hammer and a tree trimmer. The sole deputy who responded did not wait for backup before he drew his gun, threatening the victim. Family members say other deputies had defused similar situations in the past without lethal fire. In this case, however, the officer chose to shoot the young man in the street, killing him in front of his parents and sister.

Authorities report the victim had discarded his weapons when he charged the officer, but he had begun throwing rocks and making threatening gestures. The officer said he was unsure whether the man had another weapon on his person, so he instinctively fired.

Family members in this case have already enlisted the help of a qualified personal injury attorney. If your relative has been needlessly harmed by officers, you should also consider consulting a lawyer. These professionals can help you learn more about your legal and financial rights, helping you get the money you need and deserve in connection with a wrongful death.

Source: articles.sun-sentinel.com, "Slain autistic teen's parents sue sheriff's office" Ben Wolford, Aug. 01, 2013

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