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Family Files Massachusetts Wrongful Death Case, Sues State Police Over Fatal Shooting of New Bedford Man

The family of Wilfredo Justiniano is suing two members of the Massachusetts State Police for his Quincy, MA wrongful death. The 41-year-old New Bedford man, who was a diagnosed schizophrenic, was unarmed when he was shot by state trooper Stephen Walker in June 2013 during a traffic stop.

The incident happened after a driver contacted police because she witnessed Justiniano driving on the road erratically before stopping on the shoulder. The driver said she thought there was a medical emergency. By the time Walker arrived, Justiniano was outside the car and screaming and jumping. He asked the state trooper to kill him before then saying he would kill Walker.

The state trooper used pepper spray and then, claims Walker, Justiniano ran at him and that was when he fired. Justiniano sustained injury to the chest and the wrist. He was pronounced dead at a Milton hospital.

Now, his relatives are saying that he was shot without probable cause. His sister, Damaris, submitted their Massachusetts wrongful death case in Boston. They are seeking unspecified damages and claiming that the defendants violated his constitutional rights to freedom because of the use of deadly force, as well as his right to life.

The second defendant in the case is Timothy Alben, who is the head of the state police. The complaint claims that because the police superintendent didn’t provide trainings, policies, and procedures for how police should deal with mentally ill persons, Justiniano died.

Not long after the shooting, District Attorney Michael Morrisey had said Walker’s actions in shooting Justiniano were warranted because the latter was screaming that he wanted to kill the trooper and lunged at him with a pen. The wrongful death case, however, contends that Justiniano was not armed, did not pose a serious threat to Walker, and was undergoing a mental health crisis.

The Boston wrongful death case comes in the wake of the recent attention garnered in the U.S. of fatal police shootings involving men who were not armed. Earlier this month, a police officer in South Carolina was charged with murder after he was captured on video appearing to shoot an unarmed man who was fleeing the scene. Michael Slager shot Walter Scott, 50, eight times.

Recently, a county in Virginia announced that it will pay a close to $3 million wrongful death settlement to the family of John Geer. The kitchen remodeler died in 2013 after he was shot by a police officer. Witnesses and other cops said that Geer had his hands up at the time of the shooting. The police officer, Adam Torres, said Geer appeared to move his hands toward his waist. No criminal charges have been filed.

Police violence or unnecessary or excessive use of force by a police officer can be grounds for a Boston police brutality case if serious injury or death results and even if no criminal charges were filed. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today. Our Massachusetts personal injury law firm represents victims of police violence throughout the state.

Family of unarmed white man killed by police to be paid $3 million, WREG, April 22, 2015

 Sister of man fatally shot in Quincy sues State Police, The Patriot Ledger, April 15, 2015

 

More Blog Posts:

Woman in Chicopee, Massachusetts Police Brutality Case Alleges Excessive Use of Force, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 17, 2015

Workers’ Compensation Reforms are Hurting Injured Workers, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, March 7, 2015

Two Truck Driver Fatally Struck on Massachusetts Turnpike While Helping a Disabled Vehicle, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, February 13, 2015