When a person drives another to commit suicide, is it still considered wrongful death? That's what a San Diego woman is claiming after the police department allegedly tried to get her husband to confess to a decades-old crime. Police tried to get him to break, but instead he committed suicide due to the pressure. The man's widow is now suing the homicide detectives for wrongful death.
In 1984, a teen girl was killed on Torrey Pines State Beach. The 62-year-old man became a suspect when his semen was found on the 14-year-old girl's vagina during an autopsy. The man was working in the San Diego Police Department's crime lab when the killing occurred, so the man's widow believes that contamination played a role. She was married to the man for more than 20 years and does not believe he is the killer. There was no evidence that the girl was raped. Furthermore, many lab technicians back then used their own semen as part of the tests, which would explain how the man's semen ended up on the swab.
Yet homicide detectives pushed the man to confess to the crime. He refused and supposedly succumbed to the pressure, hanging himself in October 2014. It is believed that the real killer was a convicted sex offender who was killed in 2011. It is unknown how much compensation the widow is seeking for her husband's death.
When misconduct or negligence leads to a person's death, the surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit and obtain compensation. This case is complicated because the homicide detectives did not play a direct role in the man's death. They did not physically kill him, but their actions indirectly led to his eventual suicide. The widow will need to prove that the police department intended to harm her husband.
Source: CBS8.com, "Widow of ex SDPD crime lab employee files wrongful death lawsuit," David Gotfredson, July 16, 2015