Without taking the obvious opportunity to question and criticize local and state law enforcement officials, there has been public outcry, especially as of late, concerning the ability of an average citizen of the great state of California to have at least some recourse when police use excessive force and it results in the death of a loved one. No one understands this with more certainty than the family of Muhammad Usman, an autistic man who was killed in 2008 by former LAPD officer Joseph Cruz for apparently no reason whatsoever. (CA Penal Code 187)
In fact, the officer tried to lie about Usman’s use of a non-existent knife, faking even his wounds in order to attempt to fool others into believing the story he and his partner concocted after shooting Usman 3 times. The courts have already given the Usman’s their pound of flesh in the form of a $700,000 award, but others worried that there is no California law that allows families to receive recompense for the pain and suffering caused in cases like these, one statute forbids it. So, the case went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and their answer was: There may not be a law about this in California, but there sure is a federal law that you can turn to.
In fact, they said, I’m pretty sure that federal law provides for compensation to be given out to family members when a law enforcement officer participates in the unjustified or reckless murder of a civilian. Many think that this is a step in the right direction, perhaps California lawmakers will review their position on this particular subject.