Earlier this week, a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson on criminal charges for the controversial fatal shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown this past summer. While that decision sparked no shortage of controversy on its own, effectively taking criminal charges off the table, the Brown family may still pursue a civil lawsuit alleging wrongful death against Wilson, the police department or even Ferguson city officials.
What exactly that lawsuit may entail, though, is still up in the air, though Newsweek presents a few possible scenarios:
- A civil suit may seek both punitive damages as well as compensation for funeral and burial expenses or lost future wages
- Family members could choose to sue naming either themselves or Brown's estate (or both) as the plaintiffs
- While an exact amount of restitution is unclear, similar cases in the past have sought — and won — millions of dollars.
While a criminal case would have been difficult to prove, a civil suit requires a comparatively smaller burden of proof, not to mention the high-profile nature of this particular case may urge the defendants to settle sooner rather than later. History would also be on the Brown family's side should they choose to file a civil lawsuit, as UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz notes that, "There are so few cases in which officers are criminally charged, but plenty of instances in which very successful civil rights cases are brought."
No amount of money can ever make up for the loss of a loved one, but the families of alleged wrongful death victims are still entitled to damages all the same. If you have lost a family member to what you believe is a wrongful death and want to pursue for damages, contact The Meyers Law Firm for expert Kansas City attorneys that will work tirelessly on your behalf.