STOP EXCESSIVE POLICE FORCE
Police misconduct and excessive force are at epidemic levels in America. Our mission is to stamp it out. We seek real justice – not just a payout. We focus on criminal prosecution of violent cops, as well as financial recovery for victims. Contact us today, so we can get to work for you.
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A police shooting is only justified when it occurred as a last resort and it was necessary to save a life. If you or a family member have been shot by a police officer and it was not justified, we want to hear your story and fight for justice on your behalf.
Police officers may only place someone under arrest when there is sufficient evidence to do so. They are required to conduct investigations objectively and by the rules. If you or a family member were arrested for a crime that you didn’t commit and the charges were thrown out or you won the case at trial we want to hear your story and fight for justice on your behalf.
Police Officers are only permitted to use the amount of force necessary to do their job. If you or a family member have been injured by a police officer using excessive force, we want to hear your story and fight for justice on your behalf.
What Constitutes Excessive Force?
Police officers may be held liable for the use of excessive force during arrests, investigative stops or other types of seizures. When police use excessive force against an individual, the individual or their estate can sue under the federal statute 42 U.S. Code § 1983. A claim under this statute alleges that the individual’s constitutional rights were violated by the excessive use of force. In order to prove a 1983 claim for excessive force, a party must first prove that the officer was acting under the “color of law.” That means the officer was acting under their authority as a police officer. Second, the party must prove that the individual’s rights, privileges or immunities guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution were deprived.
When a police officer unnecessarily uses their firearm against an individual.
When a police officer unnecessarily uses a taser against an individual.
When a police officer unnecessarily uses a chokehold against an individual.
When a police officer unnecessarily uses pepper spray against an individual.
Whether or not a police officer used excessive force is determined by a “reasonableness” standard that was established in the U.S. Supreme Court case Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). In order to determine whether or not an officer’s use of excessive force was “reasonable,” courts conduct a balancing test between the intrusion on the individual’s rights and the government interest that was sought during the police encounter. Id. at 396. This analysis requires looking at the specific facts in each individual case, such as whether or not an individual posed a threat to the officer or others or whether the individual was attempting to evade arrest. Id. Courts are not to look at what the individual officer’s subjective intentions and thought process were during the incident, but instead what a reasonable officer would have believed if in the same situation. Id. at 397-398.
Even in instances when an officer’s use of excessive force was unreasonable, the officer may be entitled to “qualified immunity,” a legal doctrine that protects government officials from lawsuits in performance of their duties. If an officer believes their conduct could be lawful, based on the circumstances, they will be protected by immunity. However, an officer that knows their conduct is unlawful will not be protected. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982). In order for a claim against a police officer to survive a qualified immunity defense, the right that was violated needs to be clearly established by law, and needs to be clearly established enough so that the officer violating the right would have understood what they were doing violated the right. Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 625 (1987).
On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging through the affluent neighborhood of Satilla Shores in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael, a former district attorney investigator and police officer, joined his son Travis and chased Arbery down in their truck, armed with guns.
The McMichaels live in the neighborhood and their neighbor, William Bryan, got into his car and helped chase down Arbery, filming the encounter. Eventually, the McMichaels pulled out in front of Arbery. Arbery attempted to run around the truck with the two armed men. Gregory McMichael told Arbery to stop, and Travis McMichael pointed his shotgun at Arbery. Arbery engaged Travis McMichael to disarm him, but McMichael shot Arbery twice, killing him.
After the killing, the local police department was slow to release information to the public. Three different prosecutors were forced to recuse themselves from the case, including one who suggested the McMichaels’ actions constituted a legitimate citizen’s arrest, despite them not viewing Arbery in commission of a crime and clearly murdering Arbery in broad daylight. Eventually, Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan were all charged in connection with the murder of Arbery. Additionally, all three were charged with federal hate crimes in April 2021. McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is currently pursing an investigation on behalf of Arbery’s family, with the intention of filing civil lawsuits against all three suspects for Arbery’s wrongful death, as well as against the local government and police department.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was detained by four police officers outside of a grocery store in Minneapolis. Police claimed that Floyd was resisting during the encounter – a claim that was directly contradicted by clear video evidence outside the door.
During the encounter, officer Derek Chauvin forced his knee down onto Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Despite Floyd not resisting, and repeatedly indicating to him that he “can’t breathe,” Chauvin continued to violently press his knee down onto his neck. Chauvin killed Floyd through the unnecessary use of force.
All four officers were fired. After a loud public outcry over the incident, officer Chauvin was arrested, charged and convicted of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. McEldrew Young is currently conducting an investigation on behalf of Floyd’s family.
Jemel Roberson was a security guard and a resident of Chicago, Illinois. On November 11, 2018, he was providing security at the bar Manny’s Blue Room in Robbins, Illinois. A fight broke out at the bar and shots were fired from one of the patrons, striking the bartender. The police were called and Mr. Roberson, doing his job, apprehended one of the assailants outside of the bar.
Midlothian Police Officer Ian Covey, a responding officer, ordered Roberson to drop his gun, despite the fact witnesses said Roberson was wearing a vest with “SECURITY” written on it. Within only a few seconds of issuing this command, Officer Covey shot and killed Roberson, despite no provocation from Mr. Roberson.
More than a year after killing Mr. Roberson, Officer Covey has not been charged. McEldrew Young has filed a lawsuit against Officer Covey and the Village of Midlothian on behalf of Mr. Roberson’s estate for the unconstitutional use of excessive and deadly force.
Mr. Dennis was driving through North Philadelphia when two unmarked cars filled with six undercover narcotics officers began to follow him. Without the use of sirens, lights, or any other indication they were with law enforcement, the unmarked cars boxed Mr. Dennis’s vehicle in. Philadelphia Police Officer Richard Nicolleti, one of the undercover officers, joined the other five officers and surrounded Mr. Dennis’ car.
A witness said the officers, who were in plainclothes, did not properly identify themselves as officers. Officer Nicolleti drew his gun and pointed it in the window. Mr. Dennis, fearing for his life, attempted to flee in his vehicle. Mr. Nicolleti fired three shots into the passenger-side window, striking Mr. Dennis in the head and chest, killing him.
Philadelphia prosecutors failed to charge Officer Nicolleti for this unjustified killing. McEldrew Young has filed a lawsuit against Officer Nicolleti, the Philadelphia Police Department and the City of Philadelphia on behalf of Mr. Dennis’ estate.
KANSAS CITY, MO
On December 3, 2019, Kansas City police entered the backyard of 26-year-old Camron Lamb after pursuing Mr. Lamb for an alleged traffic offense. Once Mr. Lamb got to his residence, two plainclothes officers entered the backyard.
Mr. Lamb, a father of three, was in the yard and saw the officers approaching him. Fearing for his safety on his own property, and likely unsure of the identity of the officers since they were not in police uniforms, drew his gun to protect himself and his property. One of the plainclothes detectives shot and killed Lamb in his own backyard.
Jackson County prosecutors are currently reviewing the case. McEldrew Young is representing Mr. Lamb’s family and pursuing potential claims against the officers, police department and city.
On September 8, 2018, O’Shae Terry was driving in Arlington, Texas, when he was pulled over by Arlington Police Officer Julie Herlihy for an allegedly expired registration tag. Terry and his passenger, Terrence Harmon, provided Herlihy proper IDs. However, Herlihy continued to detain the two because she claimed she smelled marijuana in the car.
Officer Bau Tran arrived at the scene and approached the passenger side of the vehicle. He ordered Mr. Terry to shut off the vehicle, and Mr. Terry complied. Officer Tran continued to ask the two multiple questions and Mr. Terry rolled up the window and began to slowly move the vehicle forward. At that point, Officer Tran jumped onto the side of the vehicle, pointed his service weapon in the car and fired four shots. Mr. Terry later died at the hospital.
Officer Tran was fired and charged with homicide. On behalf of Mr. Terry’s estate, McEldrew Young has sued Officer Tran for the unlawful killing of Mr. Terry, as well as against the Arlington Police Department and the City of Arlington for a pattern of racial discrimination.
FORT WORTH, TX
Atatiana Jefferson was a 28-year-old woman living in Fort Worth, Texas. She was a graduate student who planned on going to medical school. On Saturday, October 12, 2019, she was up late at night playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew at her mother’s house. That night, Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean and responded to a call from a neighbor concerned about a door being ajar at the home.
When Dean and another officer arrived, they stalked the outside of the residence. After seeing Ms. Jefferson through the window of the home, Dean – without identifying himself as a police officer – instantly pointed and fired his weapon at Ms. Jefferson, killing her. Mr. Dean was charged with murder after an unusually swift action from local prosecutors. On behalf of Ms. Jefferson’s family, McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt has filed a lawsuit against Officer Dean for the unlawful killing of Ms. Jefferson and against the City of Fort Worth and its police department for a long history of systematic law enforcement abuse.
On December 2, 2019, 28-year-old Michael Dean was driving through Temple, Texas. He was stopped by Temple police officer Carmen DeCruz. Video shows that DeCruz walked up to the driver-side window and pointed his gun – with his finger on the trigger – at Dean while attempting to get the keys out of the vehicle. While using his left hand to pull the keys out, DeCruz pulled the trigger on his firearm despite no provocation, striking and killing Dean. Mr. Dean was unarmed.
After the killing, the Temple Police Department decided to clean Mr. Dean’s vehicle before it could be inspected. After more than three months, the local district attorney finally decided to charge DeCruz with manslaughter. McEldrew Young is currently pursuing an investigation on behalf of Dean’s family regarding the unlawful killing of Mr. Dean and the tampering of evidence by cleaning the car.
Antwon Rose was a 17-year-old living in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On June 19, 2018, police officers pulled over a vehicle in which Mr. Rose was a passenger. One of the officers, Michael Rosefeld, began shouting threatening commands at Mr. Rose and the other passengers. Rosefeld ordered Mr. Rose and the other passengers out of the car.
Mr. Rose, unarmed and fearing for his life, fled from the car. Mr. Rosefeld drew his gun and, without issuing any warning fired three shots, striking Mr. Rose in the back. Rosefeld continued to point his weapon at Mr. Rose despite him lying there in pain, posing no threat. Mr. Rose died from his injuries at the hospital.
McEldrew Young filed a lawsuit against the officer, the police department and the city on behalf of Mr. Rose’s family, securing a $2 million settlement.
On May 10, 2019, Ronald Greene was traveling along the highway in Monroe, Louisiana when Louisiana State Trooper Dakota Demoss attempted to pull Greene’s vehicle for an unknown and undisclosed traffic violation. Greene continued driving his vehicle until his vehicle swerved, spun out and crashed into a wooded area. Despite the car accident, Greene was not injured and exited the vehicle without assistance.
After exiting his vehicle, Greene was confronted by Trooper Demoss and Trooper Chris Hollingsworth. Greene apologized for not stopping earlier, but was suddenly thrown to the ground without provocation.
In May of 2021, a state police investigation into the evidence was released that uncovered more details regarding Greene’s killing. Trooper John Clary had previously told investigators that he had no body camera footage of what happened. That was a lie, as the report included his body camera footage that confirmed officers brutally beat Greene. In the footage, Greene can be heard apologizing, saying he was “scared” and pleading the officers to stop.
The video also shows that Clary’s previous characterization that Greene was resisting arrest was untrue, as Greene can be seen in the video be dragged, facedown, with his ankles shackled as police pepper sprayed him in the face. Trooper Kory York can be heard in the video telling Greene, ““Yeah, that shit hurts, doesn’t it?” Troopers can also be heard saying they didn’t want to sit Greene upright because they were concerned he would split blood at them. Trooper Hollingsworth can be heard saying, “I beat the ever-living fuck out of him, choked him, and everything else to try and get him under control.” Another trooper can be heard saying he wishes Greene contracted AIDS. This brutal attack on Greene led to him suffering cardiac arrest and dying.
To date, none of the officers involved have been criminally charged. McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officers on behalf of Greene’s estate.
YORK COUNTY, PA
The autopsy was then outsourced to a private company. While the forensic pathologist was not able to reach a conclusion about the cause of death because some of Palmer’s organs were missing, he was able to make findings about what happened to Palmer while he was in custody. According to the autopsy, Palmer was placed on suicide watch the day he turned himself in.
While in his cell, he began banging his head against the cell door. A correction officer entered the cell with a tactical shield, while a second officer entered and used a taser on Palmer twice. Multiple officers entered to restrain him, using physical control techniques, shackles, handcuffs, a restraint chair, and a hood over his head to stop him from spitting. While no cause of death was given, the autopsy listed four contributing factors: efforts to restrain Palmer, methamphetamine toxicity, sickle cell trait, and complications from an excited state. It also ruled out heart attack, brain injury or suicide. Multiple abrasions, contusions and lacerations were found on Palmer’s head and extremities.
McEldrew Young is currently pursuing litigation on behalf of Palmer’s family, and hopes the evidence uncovered during their investigation leads to criminal charges. The firm has also filed a civil rights lawsuit against the county prison board, the prison guards, the local district attorney, and other officials for Palmer’s unlawful killing and the subsequent cover-up.
Within seconds of grabbing DaQuan, Lillis shoots his JPX pepper spray pistol directly into DaQuan’s left eye, causing him permanent blindness in that eye. As DaQuan bled out from his eye he was also charged with resisting arrest, although he was not aware that an officer had grabbed him during this encounter. A claim for excessive force is currently being pursued against the officer and the City of Texarkana.
Zion witnessed his aunt’s death and was subsequently taken by police for questioning without alerting Zion’s family or an attorney that he was being questioned. A claim against the City of Fort Worth is being pursued on behalf of Zion for the illegal detention and questioning by the city’s detectives.
Mary was repeatedly given assurances by the police that they would not shoot Lou and that a negotiating team would be sent to the home. Despite these assurances, Duncanville police officers stormed the home with guns drawn and shot Lou in his stomach as he reached for his cellphone. One officer even exclaimed to the shooting officer, “What the hell are you doing?” immediately after the shooting. Lou was able to survive the shooting, but has lasting pain, physical limitations and trauma from the shooting. McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officer and the City of Duncanville for the unlawful shooting of Liggins.
As Hunter allegedly attempted to exit the vehicle, Johnson discharged his service weapon, striking Hunter with a bullet in his upper left shoulder. Evidence points to the fact that Hunter was shot inside of his vehicle and never exited the vehicle. Hunter survived the encounter and was hospitalized for the gunshot wound. A claim for excessive force is being pursued against the City of Killeen and the city has been unresponsive in disclosing crucial information and video from the encounter.
An hour later, Solaro got another phone call. She also saw a flashlight shining into the window. Worried it was Lr. Formisano, she went to the door. At this point, Simonson heard three gunshots. Lt. Formisano then immediately went to the room where Simonson was, kicked in the door, and fired his gun at Simonson six times, striking him in the arms, legs and stomach. Lt. Formisano then went back to the front of the house and shoot Solaro, killing her, before fleeing.
Simonson was able to crawl to the phone and call 911. He survived but had to undergo emergency surgery and get a metal rod in his leg because the shots from Lt. Formisano destroyed his femur. The injuries forced Simonson out of work and he is undergoing intense rehabilitation to regain full use of his leg. McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officer and the City of Duncanville for the unlawful shooting of Liggins.
KANSAS CITY, MO
Kansas City police have still not released the name of the officer who killed Sanders. The officer was initially placed on administrative leave but has since been reassigned to the patrol bureau. McEldrew Young Purtell is currently pursuing an investigation on behalf of Sanders’ behalf with the intention to pursue litigation against the officer who killed Sanders, the police department and the city.
SAN LEANDRO, TX
Taylor’s mother wasn’t informed about Taylor’s death until the following day when she received a call from the coroner. The local police department still has not identified the officers who killed Taylor. McEldrew Young Purtell is currently pursuing litigation against the officers, the City of San Leandro and the police department.
Witnesses at the scene told Williams’ family that the officers continued to fire at Williams even after his car stopped. When Williams’ mother arrived at the hospital, she asked the officers what happened to her son. Most of the officers simply told her they didn’t know hat happened. One officer gave a short explanation of why her son was dead: “He tried to run.”
McEldrew Young Purtell is currently pursuing an investigation on behalf of Williams’ family, with the intent of filing litigation against the officers who killed Williams, as well as the City of Marshall and the local police department.
McCulloch attempted to leave and began reversing out of the driveway. Police claimed she hit two officers while backing up. Without hesitating, officers began firing at McCulloch. She was struck twice, including once in the head. A brief pursuit ensued and during the chase, McCulloch stopped her car and exited. The responding officers then ran McCulloch over. McCulloch died from gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma. McEldrew Young Purtell is currently pursuing an investigation on behalf of McCulloch’s family, with the intention of pursuing litigation against the officers who killed her as well as against the Clarksville Police Department and the Red River Sherriff’s Department.
OVER 1,000 CIVILIANS were killed by police in 2019
In The Media
Attorney Lee Merritt appreciates the importance of pursuing our clients interests and the larger goals of progress through the media. Additionally, Mr. Merritt is an expert who is often asked for his opinion on a variety of topics across the spectrum of social justice and excessive force. Below are just a selection of Lee’s many media engagements.
“Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”
- Coretta Scott King
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