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Family of man shot by police accepts city's settlement

The family of a man shot and killed by police in Downey, California due to mistaken identity has accepted a $4.5 million settlement. The city had been facing a federal wrongful death lawsuit.

The man was unarmed at the time of the shooting, but police had mistaken him for a suspect in an ATM robbery. The man was pumping gas at a gas station with his family when he crossed a street towards the tobacco shop where the robbery had occurred. Police detained the man, who then fled. The police claimed that the man acted aggressively towards them and he was shot and killed with an assault rifle.

The man died at the hospital after the incident, and his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Downey for the police's conduct. The family aggressively pursued the case against the city creating a Facebook page for him, handing out flyers about the case and creating a YouTube video to advocate for him.

Wrongful death lawsuits are brought about in cases such as this one involving the death of a family member due to the negligence of another party. The lawsuit is brought by a representative of the deceased in order to hold the defendants accountable for their negligence.

Wrongful death lawsuits, such as this one, against an institution involve the legal doctrine of Respondeat Superior. What this means is that an employer can be held liable for the wrongful acts of its employees if the acts happened when the employee was acting within the scope of that employee's employment. When applied to this case, it means that the family had a cause of action against the city for the police officer's conduct, because the shooting occurred during the scope of the officer's employment.

Anyone impacted by the wrongful death of a loved one has a way of legal recourse. This involves a judgment for monetary compensation in the form of damages and a personal injury judgment against the defendant. In this way, the family is compensated for the loss of their loved one and for any expenses incurred and the defendant is held accountable for the negligence.

Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram, "Downey settles wrongful death shooting for $4.5 million," Greg Mellen, May 14, 2013

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