Police Negligence Lawsuits: Average Verdict Data

Jury Verdict Research reports that plaintiffs injured by police negligence were awarded damages in 38 percent of police negligence lawsuits. The average jury award in police negligence lawsuits is $1,507,918 (the median is $114,564).

Our lawyers do not handle police negligence or brutality cases. But I pass along this verdict data for lawyers handling police brutality cases and for victims.

Police Negligence Verdicts and Settlements

  • 2020, California: $985,000 Settlement. The families of two teenagers alleged that a police officer wrongfully shot at and detained them. At the time, the two teens had been spending time with friends in an alleyway during their free period. One of their friends held a realistic-looking Airsoft gun while rapping and dancing. As they left the alleyway to return to class, they heard gunshots. The teens thought they were from nearby gangs. Instead, an officer fired shots, assuming that the Airsoft gun was real. A bullet struck one of the teens in the upper back. Police handcuffed him and another friend. An ambulance transported the injured teen to the hospital. He remained in handcuffs while in the emergency room. Both teens remained in police custody for five hours. Their families sued the officer who fired the shot, another officer, the officers’ supervisor, the police chief, and the City of Los Angeles. They alleged that the officer who fired the shot violated the teens’ 4th Amendment rights by shooting at them and detaining them for five hours. The families also alleged that the shooting violated their 14th Amendment rights, which guaranteed due process. Before trial, the case settled for $985,000, which was to be paid for by the City of Los Angeles.
  • 2020, Kentucky: $304,819 Verdict. A 30-year-old man’s estate alleged that the local constable violated his 4th Amendment rights by killing him in a convenience store. Three days before the incident, the constable pulled the man over and discovered that he had a Failure to Appear warrant. Upon exiting his car to make an arrest, the man sped away. Three days later, the man visited a convenience store. The constable learned that he was there and hoped to arrest him. He entered the convenience store armed. The constable had his gun drawn. He saw the man in an aisle, approached him, and ordered him to put his hands up.  The constable thought he saw a weapon and feared that his life was in danger. He then fired a shot, and the man fell. The constable fired another shot when he thought the man was trying to get up. The man died at the scene after 83 seconds. Convenience store cameras caught the entire shooting on video. The constable would be indicted on murder charges but was ultimately convicted on a reckless homicide charge. The man’s estate also filed a civil lawsuit in federal court, alleging that the constable violated the 4th Amendment. A federal judge granted the estate’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the constable committed a 4th Amendment violation. The estate claimed that their damages amounted to $2,000,000 in emotional and harm, $1,000,000 in physical harm, and $583,440 in lost income. Their attorneys also asked for $830,000 in pain and suffering. The federal jury awarded the estate a $304,819 verdict.
  • 2020, California: $2,900,000 Settlement. A 50-year-old man’s family alleged that two police officers wrongfully killed him and wrongfully detained them. At the time, the two officers pursued him in a vehicular chase. His brother had called the police, expressing concern over his strange behavior. The family informed the officers of the man’s drug use and the gun and knife he had in his truck. During the chase, the officers thought they saw the man wield a handgun at them. They shot at the man’s vehicle. The chase ended at the home where the man lived with his parents and brother. The two officers fired several shots, killing the man. They then discovered that weapon he was wielding was a BB gun. The man’s family sued the two officers and the City of Anaheim, alleging excessive force. They also alleged false imprisonment, claiming that the police ordered them to go to a police station, where they were forced to make statements that would protect the city from liability. This case settled for $2,900,000, which was to be paid for by the City of Anaheim.
  • 2020, California: $7,285,000 Verdict. A 28-year-old man’s estate alleged that a police officer used excessive force by killing him near a transit bus station. The officer arrived at the station, responding to an active shooter report. He then encountered the man, who was involved in a physical altercation with another man over a gun. Right before the officer shot him, the man raised his left hand. The man died shortly after being shot. His estate sued the transit bus corporation, their police department, and the officer for excessive force. Their counsel argued that the officer should have given a verbal warning before firing a shot. In a post-shooting interview, the officer claimed that he shot the man because he thought the man was attempting to stand up. The estate’s counsel refuted this claim, arguing that video footage showed that the man was on his knees and was attempting to surrender. In the trial’s first phase, the jury found that the police officer used excessive force. They also found that the man had possessed the gun but had attempted to surrender right before the officer shot him. In the trial’s second phase, the jury found the officer 32 percent liable and the deceased 68 percent liable. They determined that the damages amounted to $7,285,800. The estate received $5,375,000 and his two surviving children received $1,910,800. Only the $1,910,800 awarded to the children was subject to liability apportionment. The net award totaled $5,986,456.
  • 2020, Nevada: $550,000 Verdict. A man alleged a police officer wrongly detained him and shot him in the foot. Right before the incident, the man encountered a police standoff while driving home from work. He drove by a SWAT vehicle. An officer came out of the vehicle and ordered him to turn around. He then approached the man’s vehicle. The officer allegedly panicked then attempted to turn on the light on his gun. Instead of turning on the light, he accidentally pulled the trigger and a bullet struck the man’s foot. The man suffered a fractured big toe. He sued the police department, alleging several counts including unreasonable seizure, excessive force, negligence, battery, false imprisonment, and outrage. The man, a former college athlete, also claimed that his big toe fracture caused physical limitations. After a four-day trial, the jury ruled in favor of the man for all counts except outrage. They awarded $550,000 in compensatory damages but awarded no punitive damages.
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