City of Norfolk Forced to Pay for Police Shooting
The authorities always claimed the police did nothing wrong when they shot an unarmed black youth in Norfolk in 2013.
Neither the prosecutors nor the police administration acknowledged that mistakes were made that resulted in a tragic and preventable loss of life. The family of the 22-year-old and our law firm made the City explain what happened through a lawsuit. The process uncovered that the facts were not as open and shut as the city claimed. In fact, the younger officer stepped directly behind a reversing car and the other cop shot his younger partner and the driver.
Last week a federal judge approved the wrongful death settlement in favor of Joshua Johnson’s family as a fair and reasonable resolution of the case. The City of Norfolk paid $163,000 to settle the lawsuit.
I’m proud of the family for bringing this claim and shedding light on the problem of potential excessive force by police, especially against black citizens. I hope that their standing up to the City will force it to look hard at policies to prevent such sad events in the future. In fact, after this claim was brought the Norfolk Police Department began using body video worn by officers as other cities in Virginia were already doing.
Norfolk police have continued to face questions about inappropriate use of force, when responding to other incidents. This year Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith frankly admitted the use of force by police in the arrest of Army reservist London Colvin was unreasonable. Colvin was injured in an attack by a police dog. Goldsmith said the policies on the use of police K-9 units would be revised and clarified.
As a society we expect police officers to use reasonable and appropriate force. Some high profile instances in Norfolk and across the country have demonstrated this is not always the case. Last week Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe ordered the Virginia State Police to investigate the bloody arrest of a black third-year student from my alma mater, the University of Virginia, by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents outside a Charlottesville bar.
I was sickened by the pictures and video that went viral of Martese Johnson on the ground with his face and shirt covered in blood as agents held him down.
If you have lost a loved one due to the unreasonable actions of a law enforcement officer, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit or an excessive force claim against a city or other entity. Call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at 757.455.0077 or see CooperHurley.com.