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Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff was notified by an alarm company that a burglary was in progress at the electronics store the plaintiff operated in Miami, Florida. After the plaintiff arrived at the scene with a loaded gun, he was shot four times by a police officer employed by the defendant Miami-Dade County. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s officer failed to follow appropriate police procedure and negligently fired his weapon. The defendant argued that the officer used appropriate procedure and acted in self-defense after the plaintiff pointed a gun at him.

At the same time the plaintiff arrived at the small Miami strip mall where his store was located, two uniformed Miami-Dade County police officers also arrived. One of the officers exited his vehicle and the other drove away in the police vehicle to pursue two other suspects who fled in a get-away car. A third suspect was inside the plaintiff’s business.

The officer approached from behind the plaintiff’s vehicle with his gun drawn. The plaintiff, a former marine in his 30s, exited his vehicle and pointed his gun at the officer. The officer shot eight times and four of the bullets struck the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed that he was shot in the buttocks without warning which caused him to turn towards the officer. Evidence showed that there was no bullet in the chamber of the plaintiff’s gun, but a loaded magazine was in place.

The plaintiff sustained hollow-point bullet wounds to his abdomen causing intestinal damage. He was also hit in the buttocks and scrotum, legs and elbow. The plaintiff claimed that he is unable to extend his arm fully and suffers continuing pain, limitation of motion and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The plaintiff’s police procedures expert opined that the situation was not properly handled by the defendant’s officer. The officer should have taken cover, called for back-up and clearly identified himself to the plaintiff, according to the plaintiff’s claims. The defendant’s officer testified that he screamed to the burglar inside the store “POLICE OFFICER GET DOWN” and that the plaintiff should clearly have heard that identification.

The jury viewed a surveillance video of the incident showing the gun in the plaintiff’s hands and that plaintiff turning and pointing the weapon at the officer. The defendant argued that the video was inconsistent with the plaintiff’s version that he was shot in the buttocks before he turned towards the officer. The defense argued that the rapid succession of fire would have also struck the plaintiff’s elbow at that point and prevented him from extending his left arm and pointing the gun at the officer as depicted in the video.

The defendant called a witness who was in a nearby business at the time of the shooting. He testified that he heard screams before the shooting and heard the police yelling something about a “gun”. The defense also argued that the video shows the plaintiff jumping out of his vehicle and turning as if he were trying to cock the gun to load a bullet into the chamber. The defense contended that the plaintiff was so focused on the burglar inside his store that he did not see the police car arrive, did not notice the police uniform and did not hear the officer’s warning. A representative of the alarm company, which notified the plaintiff and then the police of the burglary, testified that the plaintiff did not tell him he was going to the scene with a firearm. If the alarm company knew that information, it would have sent that information out over dispatch, according to testimony offered.After a five day trial, the jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff. The defendant filed a proposal for settlement in the amount of $________, but waived entitlement to attorney fees and costs. The plaintiff waived post-trial relief.

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