Deputies' sheriffs in California shot and killed a 29-year-old male motorist following a pursuit of his vehicle. The incident, which took place three years ago, happened after he backed his car into a sheriff's vehicle which was unmarked. His surviving family pursued a wrongful death lawsuit over the tragedy, and a jury recently awarded an amount totaling almost $9 million for their loss.
The man lingered on life support at the hospital for hours after the shooting, and his wife rushed to his side after being traumatized by seeing a news report of the shooting on television news--a broadcast which showed her family car. When her husband died, she was left to raise the couple's two children on her own without assistance.
While the motorist, at the time of the incident, was suspected of drunk driving, many question whether it was necessary or excessive to use deadly force to apprehend him. The jury appears to have shared those concerns.
The officers in this case had chased the motorist's vehicle as he left a parking lot. The pursuit ended when he collided with two parked vehicles, then backed up and hit the unmarked law enforcement vehicle. At the time, he was surrounded by over a dozen deputy sheriffs, and a total of 61 shots were fired at him, although he was totally unarmed at the time. To make matters even worse, the officers' suspicions that he was driving drunk turned out to be unfounded, as an autopsy revealed no indications of intoxication.
The family of a victim of wrongful death is entitled to recover compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages and other consequential expenses, in order to help them attempt to move forwards with their lives, although no amount of money is ever really adequate to make up for the loss of a husband and father.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Jury awards nearly $9 million to family of man shot by deputies," Robert Faturechi, Nov. 21, 2012