The recent shooting of a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, in Charlotte North Carolina seems to follow a similar pattern. Police officer shoots a black man and there are protests. The police officer is seldom indicted. If there is enough outrage, and Federal pressure, he is indicted but never found guilty.

We are not saying that police officers have no right to use their guns. What citizens' groups argue, is that excessive force is a serious and reoccurring problem when a black man is stopped by police on a routine traffic stop.

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From this pattern,there is enough mounting evidence, including the lack of State and Federal prosecution that civil rights is best policed by citizens. Other evidence includes juries acquitting the criminal charges against police officers.



It is given this backdrop that perhaps it is time for the family of victims to consider wrongful death lawsuits against those responsible for killing their loved ones.

Civil rights litigation has two arms: criminal and civil. The Federal Criminal Statute that criminalizes civil rights violations, a revision of the Ku Klux Klan Act, has in recent times failed to be an effective method of deterring overpolicing and unnecessary murder of innocent citizens.

A routine traffic stop should not result in the murder of the driver. Such summary punishment of motor vehicle operators violates all tenets of domestic and international law.

Since when have we in the United States started to treat routine car stops, as tightened policing needing summary executions? Some are arguing that this is perhaps the legacy of Jim Crowism - where black peoiple  compared to black people have a different set of rights when driving. Automotive Jim Crow, is invidious and divides American society.


Given this backdrop, it is high time that protests move from merely words of protests to serious wrongful death litigation. For a wrongful death lawsuit to succeed the following must be satisfied:


• The death of a human being;
• Caused by another's negligence, or with intent to cause harm;
• The survival of family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and;
• The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent's estate.


It is sad, that to avert a complete collapse of the justice system - individuals will have to resort to civil measures. These civil proceedings will serve as a public hearing to the families of the victims to get closure, justice and for the greater community as well.


Failure to indict and prosecute is precipitating what James Baldwin termed aptly as - The Fire Next Time.



Ken Sibanda, is an American Constitutional attorney and trial lawyer. He has written for numerous world publications, and is the author of International Law: Peace Accords. Known affectiianley as Tecumseh to his readers.

 
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