A Texas woman’s tragic death has left her family devastated and searching for answers. The family has filed a wrongful death suit against the Wal-Mart where her death occurred. The incident occurred when the woman allegedly tried to leave in a car with what a guard believed to be stolen merchandise.
Loss prevention officers at the store told an off-duty deputy working as a guard that the woman and two friends allegedly put store merchandise in their purses. They asked the guard to stop the women from exiting the store. The officer confronted the group as they were leaving, but an altercation ensued, and the woman ran to her car and got into the passenger seat.
The deputy allegedly followed her to the car and asked her to get out. He claims the driver put the car in reverse and he was afraid that he was going to get run over. Rather than getting out of the way, however, at that point the guard drew his gun and began firing into the car. Two bullets hit the woman in the neck and she was pronounced dead in the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex.
The family’s suit is based on the fact that the guard acted negligently by firing into the car and that the situation did not warrant using deadly force. Further testament to this guard’s recklessness is the fact that there were two children in the car at the time of the shooting. The homicide unit is currently investigating the case, but it is important to note that criminal charges against this guard will not compensate the shooting victim’s family for their loss.
Wrongful death lawsuits, however, can arise from criminal behavior like this and they may be filed independently of any criminal charges. Courts may award family members damages in wrongful death cases to provide some financial support after the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Slain shoplifter’s family sues Walmart,” Robert Stanton, March 9, 2013