Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What exactly is a wrongful death claim?”
Jewel Hall, the mother of a 49-year-old mentally disabled man shot dead by Saginaw, Michigan police officers in 2012, is campaigning for justice for her son.
Milton Hall was confronted by eight police officers after he refused to pay for coffee at a mini mart. After Hall brandished and refused to drop a penknife, officers unloaded 46 shots at Hall, striking him 14 times before he hit the ground, killing him instantly.
Ms. Hall said that after the shooting, an officer turned Milton Hall over and handcuffed him, then put his foot on Hall’s back while blood ran “down the street like water.”
The American Civil Liberties Union released a video of Hall’s shooting this week after a presentation to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights detailing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Mr. Hall was African-American, while all the police officers involved in his shooting were white.
Ms. Hall said the Department of Justice investigated the shooting but refused to press charges. The State of Michigan likewise declined to prosecute any of the officers. Two officers were disciplined by the police department, and a supervisor was demoted.
Hall’s case has received scant attention compared to other recent high-profile police shooting deaths.
The shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer on August 9 of this year ignited protests in the tiny St. Louis suburb that drew activists from all over the United States, including from the Charlotte area.
The President of the United States commented on the case. The Attorney General of the United States visited Ferguson, conducted an investigation of the Brown shooting and of the Ferguson Police Department and, on Wednesday said it was “pretty clear” that the department needed “wholesale change.”
Thousands of protestors crowding Ferguson’s streets and, in some cases, rioting and calling for the death of police officers, have developed a clarion call: “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
The Washington Post, however, has questioned the accuracy of the claim that Brown had his hands up when he was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson. Instead, according to San Francisco forensic pathologist Judy Melinek, the trajectory of one bullet that traveled through Brown’s arm as well as materials found in a wound on Brown’s thumb showed the 18-year-old could not have been facing Wilson, and that Brown may have been reaching for Wilson’s gun when Wilson shot him.
The circumstances of any shooting death should be thoroughly investigated and, where proper, individuals who have violated the law—whether law-enforcement officials or private citizens—should be charged with crimes.
What is so striking about the Brown case is how much has been made of so little. Brown’s death—and the death of any human being—is a big deal. What is lacking—what protestors in Ferguson and elsewhere, as well as supporters of Darren Wilson lack—are the facts.
Even with the passage of nearly three months, the facts that underlay Brown’s shooting continue to be disputed, and law-enforcement officials have been strikingly mum about what they know.
A grand jury has convened to consider whether Officer Wilson should be charged, but aside from unconfirmed leaks, none of the evidence presented to the grand jury has been made public.
Milton Hall’s death was captured on video. The facts are not in dispute. What is lacking, according to his mother, is the outrage.
“What needs to change is how police deal with situations,” Jewel Hall said. “The elected leaders and community leaders must address conditions that allow police to use excessive and deadly force with impunity.”
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone’s negligent or intentional conduct, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment today. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
Photo by David R. Ingram
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