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Officer Shooting of AZ Man Results in $20 Million Lawsuit

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 18, 2009 9:05 AM

The family of an Arizona man who was shot by police while he was holding his baby daughter has filed a lawsuit against the city of Scottsdale. The lawsuit is for $40 million dollars.

According to The Examiner, the scuffle between Scottsdale police and Mr. David Hulstedt occurred on November 7, 2008. The police department received a telephone call from a man who identified himself as David Hulstedt. He told the dispatcher who received his call that there was a crisis. When the dispatcher heard a baby crying in the background, she asked if Mr. Hulstedt was hurting the child.

Mr. Hulstedt responded to her query with: "I'm not going to tell you. I want you to send her to my house. I want to meet with her. I'm done talking here." Mr. Hulstedt was talking about his desire to meet with Arizona's governor Janet Napolitano. He wanted the governor to come to his house. No one knows why he was upset or wanted to the governor to come to his house. He hung up the phone on the dispatcher.

When the dispatcher called back, the man's mother told the dispatcher that her son was "mentally distressed".

In spite of this callback, the dispatcher sent the Scottsdale Police to check on the man and the child. The man was in the front yard carrying the crying baby and threatened to pile drive the baby into the ground if police did not listen to his demands.

Mr Hulstedt is alleged to have said: "If you don't let my brother come inside, I'll pile drive my daughter into the ground."

Scottsdale police became alarmed by the threat and shot Mr. Hulstedt. As a result of the shooting, Mr. Hulstedt may be permanently disabled. The family claims that the police intended to isolate David from his family support system when they refused to listen to his requests, he was not armed when the police shot him, and that Mr. Hulstedt did not threaten the police.

You can read the family's version of the story on their website here.

This may be a case of police misconduct.

What is Police Misconduct?

Police misconduct occurs when police officers deprive a citizen of his/her rights as granted by the Constitution or federal law. 

Title 42, of the United States Code. Section 1983 makes it unlawful for anyone acting under the authority of state law to deprive another person of his or her rights under the Constitution or federal law. The most common claims brought against police officers are false arrest (or false imprisonment), malicious prosecution, and use of excessive or unreasonable force.

Which Claim Did The Hulstedt Family Make?

They may have claimed wrongful death through use of excessive force by the police. In this type of claim, the court must assess whether or not the use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. What the officer's intentions were do not really matter. It is an objective standard. Therefore, even if the Scottsdale police intended to save the baby, if the court finds that their use of force was unnecessary, then the claim of excessive force would be upheld.

For more information about police misconduct and excessive force, please visit our Related Resources.

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