An Albuquerque man was shot and killed by police back in 2013, and his family is bringing a wrongful death suit against the city. According to a New Mexico news report, the suit is alleging that the officers violated the man’s civil rights by using excessive force. Apparently, the incident stemmed from a police search of individuals who were involved in a theft at a music store. The police officers were searching for the alleged offender for many hours when they finally located him. The police officer named in the suit claims that he only shot at the man after he pointed a gun at the officer and the other officers who were there to arrest the man.
The family of the man contends that the officer’s account of the situation was not accurate, and they have camera footage to substantiate their claim. The family alleges that the man never pointed a gun, and he was actually running away from the officials.
No criminal charges have been brought by the County District Attorney’s Office, but the family is still going forward with the civil suit. The amount of damages they are seeking has not been disclosed, but in the past few years the City has spent over $11 million in judgments, legal fees, and settlements because of these types of incidents.
Wrongful Death Suits in New Mexico
Wrongful death suits in New Mexico are similar to personal injury cases except that the survivors of the victim who was killed are bringing the suit rather than the victim. New Mexico categorizes wrongful death as a death that was “caused by the wrongful neglect, act or default of another person.”
Bringing a Civil Suit When There are No Criminal Charges in New Mexico
Many times, individuals are confused about the difference between civil and criminal claims. Generally, the differences lie in the party bringing the claim, the burden of proof, evidentiary rules, and the damages or punishment.
In criminal cases, the party bringing the suit is the state, and it must establish the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in civil cases the burden of proof starts off on the plaintiff. With that said, in some circumstances the burden can shift. Furthermore, the burden of proof is not as stringent as in criminal cases. Instead, the plaintiff need only prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. It is often easier to succeed on a civil claim if criminal charges have been brought, but it is not necessary to a favorable outcome.
Filing a Wrongful Death Suit
If a loved one has been killed because of the negligence of another individual or entity, the survivors of the deceased person may consider bringing a wrongful death suit. The family of the victim may be entitled to certain compensation as a result of the wrongful death. Compensation is often awarded for medical bills, burial and funeral costs, and lost wages. In certain circumstances, punitive or pain and suffering damages may be awarded as well. It is important to contact the Fine Law Firm at 505-889-FINE to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your rights and remedies.
More Blog Posts:
Hospital Attempts to Get Case Dismissed Because of Statute of Limitations, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 20, 2015.
Skateboarder Hit and Killed in Fatal DUI Accident in New Mexico, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2015.