There was once a time in the United States when those with disabilities were not only looked at as lesser human beings but also treated in the same manner. Individuals suffered poor treatment with little to no recourse for the abuses done upon them. While today's society has made great strides in this area, it is far from perfect and unfortunately incidents borne out of ignorance still occur. But unlike a hundred years ago victims and their family members have more options, one of them being a wrongful death suit if the worse should occur.
The parents of a disabled man have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the California State University police department and university for the death of their son. Their son was killed in December after three separate encounters with university police. During the third and final encounter the disabled man was shot five times for what the police described as aggressive behavior. The suit claims the officers violated the Americans with Disabilities Act as the university was notified prior to their son's attendance of his mental health issues. Their son was registered as a disabled student. The suit, which also calls into question the officer's training, is asking for unspecified damages.
Individuals with disabilities are given special status under the American's with Disabilities Act. Because some individuals with disabilities may not be aware of the significance or consequences of their actions, special care should be used when attempting to diffuse a potentially explosive situation. When individuals are acting within the scope and standards of their employment and training, a wrongful death suit can be used to question the actions of those who caused the death.
Wrongful death suits are rarely as simple as receiving some sort of compensation for the death. The lawsuits can also be used as a platform to promote change. While the suit will not bring the couple's son back, it may help change the policies and training that contributed to his death.
Source: Inland Valley News, "Parents File Charges Against CSUSB & Police Department," Jonathan Ng, March 28, 2013