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Who Polices the Police?

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on December 29, 2018

The men and women of law enforcement are among the bravest individuals in the world. They wake up every day and go to a job that most of us cannot even imagine, rush into harm’s way to keep strangers safe, and face dangers that other people go to great lengths to avoid. Police officers throughout Texas who do their jobs with respect and dignity are the finest examples of what it means to be a Texan.

Sadly, there are situations where police officers act in error and make grave mistakes, or take action in a reckless and negligent manner. While we are all thankful that such occurrences are rare, that does not mean they should be ignored or allowed. The people we trust to keep us safe must be held to the highest standard of behavior.

When a police officer acts in an irresponsible or negligent manner, it is important to hold him and anyone who would cover for him accountable for those actions.

The Tragedy of Jemel Roberson

If you’ve turned on the news or been online recently, then you’ve probably heard about the tragic death of Jemel Roberson. Here is what happened:

In the early hours of Sunday, November 11, 2018, Jemel Roberson was working as a security guard at Manny’s Blue Room, a bar in suburban Chicago. That night, he had escorted several intoxicated men who were acting up out the restaurant, and while in the parking lot, one of them reportedly returned with a firearm. As the man opened fire, Roberson made a move and apprehended the man, pinning him to the ground with one knee on the man’s back and a firearm trained on his head. Chicago police responded to calls of a shooting and arrived at the bar. A police officer saw Roberson with the suspect pinned to the ground and saw that Roberson had a weapon. What happened next is currently being investigated and depends on who is telling the story.

According to police, the officer ordered Roberson to put down the weapon and get on the ground, repeatedly instructing him to do this, and Roberson failed to comply. Police have also stated that Roberson was not wearing anything at the time to indicate he was a security guard. Some witnesses at the scene, however, report that numerous people were shouting at the officer that Roberson was a security guard, that he had a hat marked “Security” and wore a bright orange vest, and that the officer fired before properly assessing the situation.

Either way, the police officer shot and fatally wounded Roberson, while the actual assailant suffered only minor injuries. The incident is still under investigation, but it has sparked outrage and debate over numerous issues, including responsible police behavior when interacting with the public—particularly African Americans.

Roberson’s family has already filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police department, though that is little comfort for his 10-month-old son.

Holding Law Enforcement Accountable

For us to honor our men and women of law enforcement, we must hold them to the highest of standards. Children often dream of growing up to be police officers, so it is important for cops to act with honesty and respect to earn the adoration of those children. When a police officer fails to uphold the standards we expect of him or her, it is appropriate to hold the officer accountable.

Internal investigations and prosecution are rarely as transparent as they should be. But civil lawsuits can be used to hold people accountable for the things they do, particularly when some form of negligence has been committed. Police officers are a part of enforcing the law, but that does not place them above it—if anything, they should be an example of ethical and responsible behavior for everyone else.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Texas

In Texas, wrongful death lawsuits let the family of a person who has been killed hold whoever is at fault for the death financially responsible for their actions. That can include police officers and the departments that employ them. Proving that a wrongful death has occurred, however, is no small task, which is why an experienced Dallas police brutality lawyer is so important.

In Texas, parents, spouses, and children of the deceased only have two years from the person’s death to file a claim against the party responsible. Even then, it takes a great deal of effort to show that the responsible person is liable for a loved one’s death, and showing that a police officer acted in a negligent way is harder; all the more reason to have an attorney to handle such a lawsuit. For a free case evaluation with The Law Office of WT Johnson, please call (214) 231-0544 today.

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Posted in: Police Misconduct

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