Wrongful death lawsuits aren’t all that common, but enough of them exist to keep lawyers who practice this niche area of personal injury law busy. They occur when one person’s — or an organization’s — negligence or carelessness results in the death of one or more people. Considering the rise in officer involved shootings, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that wrongful death cases involving police officers are increasing.
Military veteran Donnel Lang was killed in an officer involved shooting on April 2, 2019. He had been carrying a sidearm visible in his waistband when he was approached by police. Authorities say that Lang initially cooperated with their instructions, but then resisted arrest when they attempted to place him in cuffs.
When Lang allegedly reached for the sidearm, an officer with the Redding Police Department (RPD) fired multiple shots, at least one of which struck and killed Lang.
Lang’s family is still trying to find answers. It’s been seven months since he died.
Donnel’s mother Diane Lang said in a recent press conference, “On April 2, 2019, I received a phone call that every parent prays they will never get. A call telling me that my son Donnel had been killed.”
The Lang family decided to sue the city of Redding for the alleged negligence of its officers.
Attorney John C. Taylor said, “In all the training manuals there are steps that should be followed or techniques that should be employed and either the officers skipped that or have no tactical plan when dealing with somebody.”
Court documents show that the Langs are suing for wrongful death on the basis of RPD’s threat of violence, battery, and negligence hire and training practices.
The District Attorney’s office has yet to determine whether or not the RPD was in the wrong.
Donnel’s brother Darren Lang said at the press conference, “You asked earlier what is the endgame, what’s the best outcome. It is holding people accountable for their actions. Nothing more, nothing less. Be accountable, and maybe it doesn’t happen the next time.”
He continued, “We know there was no gun. We know he was shot at close range with an assault rifle, and we understand that he was on his knees or on the ground when it happened.”
Those are all facts. When searching Donnel after he had been shot, all the officers found were a set of keys.
Diane Lang said, “When I heard he was shot and killed by police, I was absolutely shocked. I’m hoping this lawsuit will help prevent this from happening to someone else’s son.”