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After the fatal shooting of Quintec Locke by a Chicago police officer on July 1, his sister, Tamara Locke, filed a lawsuit to find out what went wrong. The complaint alleges that officers failed to follow proper procedure, and that the fatal shooting of Quintec was unnecessary.
While there has not been an official response to the lawsuit yet, police did report that a handgun and an assault rifle were recovered from the scene. Whether those belonged to Quintec, and whether the victim ever fired the weapon at all is currently unknown.
Getting Answers Through Litigation
Often, when police, government officials, and even private individuals take actions that cause harm, victims will be left in the dark as to what really happened. Through the litigation process, however, a victim may be able to learn the truth about how or why they were harmed. After a lawsuit is filed, the discovery process can commence. During discovery, a victim can force the individual(s) being sued to produce any and all evidence they possess that supports the victim's case.
When a victim dies, as in Mr. Locke's case, it is the victim's estate, or next of kin, that must bring the legal action for wrongful death. Different jurisdictions have different standards regarding who may file wrongful death actions.
When Can Police Shoot?
Mr. Locke's case involves the rather hotly debated question of when a law enforcement officer is legally justified in firing their weapon. Generally, officers will be legally protected from liability if they discharge their weapon within the bounds of police protocols. Additionally, if an officer reasonably fears for their life, or the lives and safety of others, opening fire will usually be permissible.
Often, when officers are authorized to open fire, they are also authorized to use deadly force, particularly against individuals with guns. In Mr. Locke's lawsuit, it is alleged that officers shot him dead before he ever pointed a weapon at anyone, or fired a shot. However, the officers were allegedly responding to a "shots fired" incident. Interestingly, one of the officers involved in the shooting was wearing a body camera. As of this time, there is no information about what the footage depicts.