Chicago, Client Results, Firm News, Johnson & Bell, Municipal Liability

Burkoth Secures Summary Judgment in Civil Rights Case Seeking $3M from Two Police Officers

February 11, 2019

Johnson & Bell Attorney, Monica Burkoth, obtained summary judgment in favor of two police officers accused of excessive force and wrongful death. The plaintiff, the mother of a man shot and killed by police, filed a Civil Rights lawsuit alleging that on August 29, 2015, the officers shot her son in a manner that constituted an unjustified and excessive use of force.  The plaintiff sought $3 million in damages in this Civil Rights case.

In this case, the officers witnessed a drive-by shooting on the southwest side of Chicago. Following the shooting, the offending vehicle, driven by the plaintiff’s son, fled the scene, striking several parked cars in the process.  When the officers caught up to the vehicle, the driver reversed into their car and then continued forward into a parking lot.  Video footage obtained from a security camera located inside the parking lot captured this portion of the encounter, which included the moment that the officers entered the parking lot on foot and fired their weapons at the driver.  While in the lot, the officers observed the front driver’s side window of the offending vehicle, which was previously raised, begin to lower. The officers, believing that the driver had lowered the window to fire at them, discharged their weapons, fatally striking him. The entire incident, beginning with the officers’ observation of the drive-by shooting and ending with their use of deadly force against the driver in the parking lot, lasted approximately 90 seconds. The officers moved for summary judgment arguing that the undisputed facts, supported by video footage, established that their use of deadly force against decedent was legally justified because, at the time they fired their weapons, the officers reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to themselves and to others.  The Court, in a written opinion, granted the motion and the case was dismissed with prejudice.

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