Phoenix Civil Rights Lawyers

We count on police officers to make the right decisions to protect us and enforce the law, no matter the situation. Unfortunately, sometimes police officers are too quick to use their guns and people get hurt or killed. When this happens, the victims or their families may have legal options. The Phoenix civil rights lawyers at Phillips Law Group are ready to discuss your situation in a 100 percent free consultation that comes with no obligation to pursue a case. If the police officer violated you or your loved one's civil rights, he or she should be held accountable. You could be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered. Our attorneys have extensive knowledge of the laws affecting these cases, including the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and Arizona statutes on the use of deadly force by police officers.

Our Phoenix office is located at 3101 North Central Avenue, just 15 minutes from Phoenix location of the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation form today or call us at 1-800-706-3000.

Laws That Apply to Police Shootings

Our Phoenix civil rights lawyers may be able to file a lawsuit citing violations of Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 or Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) §13-410 Justification; use of deadly physical force in law enforcement.

Section 1983

This law applies to situations when someone who was acting under color of state-level or local law deprived someone of rights created by federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution. This law allows you to sue the government for civil rights violations.

The phrase "under color of" means the accused was acting as a representative of the state when the victim was deprived of civil rights. Police officers using excessive force fit this definition.

Judges will consider various factors to determine if a police officer fits this definition:

  • He or she was on duty
  • He or she was wearing a police officer uniform
  • He or she used handcuffs or other police equipment
  • He or she arrested someone
  • He or she claimed to be an officer or flashed a badge

When a shooting takes place during an arrest, courts normally decide the officer was acting under color of state law.

Arizona Statutes

Under Arizona law, the use of deadly physical force by law enforcement against someone else is justified only when the officer reasonably believes use of deadly force is necessary for one of two purposes:

  • Self-defense or to defend a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force
  • Arresting or preventing the escape of someone the officer reasonably believes:
    • Committed, attempted to commit or is committing or attempting to commit a felony involving a deadly weapon or threatening to use a deadly weapon to commit a felony
    • Is trying to get away by using a deadly weapon
    • Based on past or present conduct, the individual in question is likely to endanger human life or inflict severe bodily injury to someone else unless the person is promptly apprehended
    • Use of deadly force is necessary to lawfully suppress a riot if the person is participating in a riot using a deadly weapon

This statute also says peace officers are justified in using deadly physical force when the officer believes it is necessary to protect himself or herself against another person's potential use of deadly physical force or physical force.

Another Arizona statute that may apply to police shooting cases is 12-820.02. This statute says public employees, such as police officers, cannot be held liable for acting within the scope of their employment unless they were grossly negligent or intended to cause injury.

States have these types of laws because police would have a difficult time doing their jobs if they could be sued every time an individual suffered an injury. This means police officers may be immune to claims from victims if they can prove they were acting in good faith to carry out their official duties. This is one of the main defenses police officers and their departments use when victims of shootings and their families try to take legal action.

The civil rights lawyers in Phoenix at Phillips Law Group have in-depth understanding of these laws and how they apply to your case. We have the resources to conduct a thorough investigation of the shooting to determine what happened and when a police officer acted unlawfully.

Contact Phillips Law Group right now for a free, no obligation legal consultation.

Review of Officer-Involved Shootings

When a law enforcement officer uses lethal force, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office (MCAO) is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond and begin a complete and thorough investigation. MCAO has experienced detectives who are ready to assist a prosecutor with critical incident investigation.

Once the investigation is finished, the MCAO Officer Involved Shooting Committee will conduct a comprehensive and objective review of the investigation to find out if the officer acted lawfully. The committee also makes a recommendation to the County Attorney, who makes a final decision about whether or not the shooting was lawful. The involved law enforcement agency, investigative agency and involved employees are given the decision in writing.

If you were injured or lost a loved one in a police shooting, contact a skilled Phoenix civil rights lawyer today for a free, no obligation legal consultation. We are committed to holding law enforcement accountable and pursuing compensation for the damages you suffered.

Contact Phillips Law Group today by calling 1-800-706-3000.

Filing a Lawsuit Over a Police Shooting

Arizona has specific deadlines and notice requirements for claims against public officials, such as police officers. Under A.R.S. §12-821.01, public entities must be notified of your claim within 180 days of the incident in question. The notice you provide them must contain:

  • A specific demand
  • Facts that allow the public entity to understand the basis for liability
  • Information supporting the damages you are claiming

When you notify the officer of the claim, the government has a chance to settle outside of court, which is what often happens in these situations. Typically, police officers and police departments want to avoid the added attention of a trial, so they offer a cash settlement.

If the public entity makes no response within 60 days of receiving the notice, the claim is considered denied. This usually means the public entity thinks your claim does not have merit.

If this happens, you are allowed to file a lawsuit in state court. State law says actions against public entities or employees must be filed within one year of the cause of action accruing.  

Damages for a Police Shooting Lawsuit

Some states place caps on damages you can receive in a personal injury lawsuit. However, Arizona does not cap the economic or non-economic compensation our Phoenix civil rights attorneys may be able to recover. This means you might be able to recover compensation for personal injury damages, which could include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Lost wages
  • Lost financial support

However, Arizona law says courts are prohibited from awarding punitive damages in these cases.

Filing a police-shooting lawsuit is an incredibly complex process and building a case can be very difficult. These claims will likely be strongly opposed by attorneys who specialize in defending against these claims. This is why you could greatly benefit from having a civil rights attorney in Phoenix on your side who knows the law and how to contend with a strong defense.

Our experienced attorneys know how devastating it can be to lose a loved one in a police shooting that was unjustified. Schedule a free, no obligation consultation today to discuss what happened so we can determine your legal options. There is a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit, so it is best to contact us as soon as possible.

Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form today.

Contact a Qualified Phoenix Civil Rights Lawyer Right Away

Have you lost a loved one in a police shooting?

Our Phoenix civil rights attorneys understand the pain people feel after the tragic loss of a loved one. We are ready to build a strong case and hold the negligent police officer accountable for what happened. We are also committed to pursuing the compensation you deserve for damages.

Your consultation with our attorneys is completely free and comes with no obligation to pursue a case. This means there is no risk to you in contacting us. However, you should contact us soon because we have limited time to pursue the justice you and your family deserve.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation form or call us at 1-800-706-3000.

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