Yesterday, another white police officer killed a black teenager.

This killing occurred in St. Louis, Missouri. See Wall St. J., St. Louis Police Officer Fatally Shoots Man (Oct. 9, 2014). An off-duty police officer was patrolling a neighborhood in uniform for a private security company. See id.; Wash. Post, Crowds in Streets of St. Louis after Fatal Shooting by Off-Duty Police Officer (Oct. 9, 2014). The Police report that the deceased teenager was one of three men who turned and ran upon seeing the officer. See Wash. Post, supra. The officer gave chase because he suspected one of the men may have had a gun in his waistband. See id. After a short chase, one of the men confronted the officer. See id. After a brief struggle, the teenager allegedly ran up a hill, drew a handgun, and fired three shots at the officer. See id. The officer returned fire seventeen times, killing the teenager. Id. Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports from the family of the dead teenager. Id.

Cases such as this one raise questions of race and racial profiling, and resurrect memories of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, and of Ferguson, Missouri. These cases also erode the public’s trust of the police and the people investigating the killing. Perhaps the officer acted justifiably in killing the teenager, and perhaps he did not. But the teenager is dead and cannot explain his side of the story.

Certainly, the family of the deceased should consider hiring an attorney, if they have not done so already, to assist them in understanding what they can do.

An attorney can help the family understand what steps the police will take in their investigation. An attorney can also keep an eye on what the police actually do. If the police investigation lags in any way, the attorney can pressure the police to pick up the slack. If the police act improperly, the attorney can advise the family about actions to take to hold the police and the shooter responsible.

The attorneys at the Coughlin Law Group track cases of police committed homicides. If a friend or loved one has been killed by a police officer, please feel free to call and share your story with us.