Police Officer in Fatal Shooting Not Charged

By Peter DePaolis

If you would like more information about personal injuries stemming from assault, please contact Northern Virginia personal injury attorney Thomas McWeeny of Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

An assault occurs when you are placed in a state of fear of being attacked. To be charged with assault, harmful words are not enough; a gesture or the showing of some weapon is necessary. Just the physical threat is enough to prove assault. Police officers can use force for an arrest or to carry out their duties. Outside of these areas, however, they too can be liable for an assault. You can avoid an assault by keeping in mind that you cannot touch or show the threat of a weapon toward someone in an argument.

Last fall a Fairfax County police officer shot and killed an unarmed, mentally ill man. The officer was cleared of any wrongdoing by the county’s prosecutor. The 26-year-old officer shot the 52-year-old man, who suffered from bipolar disorder and was an Army Green Beret, after a series of events led the officer to believe that the man had a weapon. When the officer, along with two others, first approached the man in his car, the vehicle started creeping forward and nearly struck one of the officers. One of the officers then thought he saw the man reach for a weapon and shot the man twice.

Police officers act for their own safety and the safety of others. They have to make split-second decisions based on what they perceive, so it is important to pose no threats to the officer. Place your hands where officers can see them and do not make sudden movements.  Even police officers, however, can commit assault if their acts are unreasonable and pose a physical threat to you.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or death stemming from an assault, please contact a Northern Virginia personal injury lawyer at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.