According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4,813 arrest-related deaths were reported between 2003 and 2009, with approximately 2,931 deaths classified as homicide by law enforcement personnel. Wrongful death lawsuits against law enforcement for using reckless and excessive force have been cropping up in courts across the nation, observes Berkowitz and Hanna LLC .One such case in Napa, California was recently settled for $700,000. Richard Poccia, a 60-year-old registered nurse, was killed by a single rifle shot to the head by Officer Nick Dalessi on Nov. 28, 2010.
The officer believed Poccia was reaching for a weapon in his waistband and fired the deadly shot. Police had responded to reports that Poccia “was in a mental health crisis, drinking heavily, in possession of many firearms and making both suicidal and threatening comments.” The object in the Poccia’s waistband was a 4-inch folding knife.
The Napa County District Attorney maintained that Officer Dalessi’s action was legally justified because Poccia presented “an immediate and serious threat of death or great bodily harm.” The Poccia family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the city of Napa, claiming that police had acted recklessly and with excessive force.
Berkowitz and Hanna LLC notes that despite not admitting liability, the city chose to settle the lawsuit, offering the victim’s wife and daughter $700,000. Additionally, the Napa police officers will be required to undergo a 32-hour Crisis Intervention Training course. Note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent any of the parties in this case.