The family of a legally blind and mentally ill man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fontana alleging that police were too quick to use lethal force. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, a muted video of the Nov. 22, 2015 incident was made public by lawyers for the man’s family showing a throng of police officers surrounding the disabled man in a convenience store before an officer opened fire, killing him. The San Bernardino County district attorney is now reviewing the shooting.
The video shows a number of police officers cornering 47-year-old James Hall in the back of a Chevron gas station mini-mart. The police and man are seen engaging in a brief standoff. Hall appears in the video to shift his weight between two counters just before a police officer shoots and he collapses on the floor.
Did Police Use Lethal Force Unlawfully?
Police officers initially said Hall was armed with a knife and advanced toward officers before police shot him dead. Lawyers for Hall’s family, last month, filed a state civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fontana and its police department. The complaint also names 12 Fontana police officers who were allegedly involved in the shooting. Lawyers for Hall’s family allege that police falsified their report.
The Fontana police department has maintained that its officers responded to an armed robbery and that Hall was armed at the time with a rock and a knife. In the video, Hall seems to be empty-handed for the most part. The lawsuit alleges that police escalated a peaceful encounter with Hall into a conflict that ended with “the unlawful use of deadly force.”
Wrongful Death Cases
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hall family for their tragic loss. We hope that this wrongful death lawsuit will help bring out the truth on what really occurred here.
Wrongful death is defined as one that was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. It is different from a criminal case where the perpetrators are punished with time in prison. Wrongful death is a civil action where the defendants are found “liable” for the victim’s death and are ordered to pay monetary support to the survivors.
Wrongful death lawsuits are usually filed by a spouse or partner of the victim, children, siblings, parents or anyone else who may have been financially dependent on the decedent. In addition to getting monetary support for victims’ families, wrongful death lawsuits also expose wrongdoing and do their part to potentially prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.