The Tallahassee City Commission approved a $2,600,00.00 settlement recently in the wrongful-death suit of a police informant who was killed during a drug sting operation. The lawsuit was brought by the parents of a twenty-three year old Forida State University student, who alleged that the City Police Department was negligent the manner in which she was used in the operation.
During the sting operation, the woman was given money to purchase drugs from suspected dealers. The meeting was arranged in a rural area. The police lost contact with the young woman and the suspected drug dealers murdered her and stole her car. The young woman’s crime that resulted in her being used in such a dangerous police obligation? Possession of marijuana and medication without a prescription.
$200,000.00 of the settlement will be paid immediately. The remainder will only be paid if the Florida Legislature approves a claims bill specifically agreeing to pay the amount. The state is under no binding obligation to do so. Even if it occurs, it usually takes many years and much lobbying. Regardless of whether the settlement is ever funded, justice for this young woman will never be complete.
Only after trial began, the City finally acknowledged that the police department was negligent. Think about that – this is an especially egregious case. The City did not offer fair compensation before the parents hired an attorney. It should have. The City did not offer fair compensation during three years of litigation while devestasting facts of negligence were discovered. Only when the parents trial lawyers had started the trial and the writing was on the wall was the City forced to do the right thing.
We can only hope this recognition by the City will lead to more reasonable and cautious police behavior when enlisting citizens to perform work that it is obligated to do. In fact, the Florida Legislature has now passed a law requiring police to: adopt policies to protect informants; provide training for investigators who work with informants; make police inform informants they cannot be promised reduced sentences; and allow potential informants to talk with a lawyer before agreeing to act as an informant.
Although injury attorneys are much maligned in our society, consider what would have been accomplished if no attorneys were involved and a thorough investigation on the young woman’s behalf was never done. Would policies have changed? Would more citizens accused (but not even convicted) of relatively minor crimes by killed?
If you have any questions about a wrongful death case in the Jacksonville Florda area, please call our Jacksonville injury lawyers for a free consultation.