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San Jose police sued for negligence after gunshot victim's death

Posted on in Wrongful Death

Although the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are the result of accidents, there are plenty of other circumstances under which one or more people may be held liable for another person's injury or wrongful death. Negligence comes in many forms, and sometimes doesn't happen until after someone is already injured.

An example is the case of a San Jose woman who was shot two years ago in the upstairs hallway of her family's apartment, just a few blocks away from a medical center. Her family members claim that just after the shooting a police dispatcher told them that paramedics were on their way. But when police arrived, they went across the street instead. The woman's husband, sister and other family members shouted that it was safe to come inside the building and that the woman was inside, in need of help.

After some time passed, the woman's husband went down to the street and begged the officers and paramedics to come inside the building and help his wife. But police instead were responding to a woman whom they found bleeding from a stab wound on the lawn outside the apartment complex, and told the husband of the gunshot victim to go back inside. They later said that with an assailant still inside the building, they didn't want to charge upstairs to the victim. Little did they know that the man accused of shooting her was inside his apartment, calmly waiting for police to arrest him.

Although police arrived three minutes after the family dialed 911, they say she wasn't treated for more than 30 minutes later. The family also says police didn't allow them to take the woman to the hospital by themselves. Their complaint states that the woman's medical condition continued to deteriorate because police and paramedics refused to enter the building and treat her. As a result, they claim, she ended up dying from her injury.

Cases in which a life could have been saved but was lost through negligence are just as tragic as those lost instantly in an accident, especially when the negligence is on the part of emergency responders we count on to rescue us. It must be heart-wrenching for the loved ones of the victim in this case to contemplate what might have happened if they'd transported her to the nearby hospital without relying on the people paid to protect and serve them.

Source: Mercury News, "San Jose: Lawsuit alleges that police refused to let paramedics treat gunshot victim," Mark Gomez, July 19, 2012

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