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Wrongful Police Shootings - The First 24 Hours

By Expert Author: David Drexler

What to Do in the First 24 Hours After a Wrongful Police Shooting


When a police officer oversteps his authority with an unjustified shooting, the victim should consider a lawsuit. Acting within 24 hours strengthens the victim’s case.


Police officers of course use weapons, including guns, to apprehend suspects in crimes and to keep the peace. But there is such a thing as a wrongful police shooting, where the police use unreasonable or excessive force in the execution of their duties. These shootings typically lead to catastrophic injury or death.


For example, if a shoplifting suspect is seen running from a store with merchandise clearly in view, the police need to communicate that they want that individual to stop. If the individual continues running, the police need to apply reasonable judgment as to whether that individual is potentially dangerous and whether apprehension can simply occur by pursuing the suspect. Only if the suspect is seen to have a gun or other weapon might the police justifiably take aim at the suspect.


If you or a loved one was shot by the police and circumstances suggest it was unreasonable, you need to do at least three things in the first 24 hours following the incident:

Seek emergency medical treatment – You of course need to address your injuries with a visit to a hospital or doctor. Importantly, the healthcare provider will create a medical record of your injuries, which can provide key evidence in a wrongful shooting lawsuit.

Contact an attorney – With the help of a wrongful police shooting lawyer, appropriate legal evidence gathering can take place while that evidence is available.

Preserve evidence – If bullets pierced clothing, for example, it provides evidence that can be used in a lawsuit as well. Do not discard anything related to the crime scene if at all possible.

Often times, community organizations will rally around a police-shooting victim to highlight a pattern of such incidents where they exist. While this can help serve a public awareness-raising function, it might serve your legal interests to avoid participation in rallies or to speak with the media in the immediate aftermath. Misplaced words might later be used as evidence against you in a lawsuit.


Be sure to contact an attorney with experience at wrongful police shootings and who has trial experience. Proper legal counsel can help overcome a zealous defense and ensure that the proper rule of law is upheld.

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