Officers Injured Responding to Domestic Violence Recover $255,000 for their Injuries

With the rise in domestic incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is critical officers know their rights when injured during these difficult calls.

With the rise in domestic incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is critical officers know their rights when injured during these difficult calls.

Among the horrible repercussions of the ongoing pandemic are increased incidences of domestic violence.  And while it will likely go unreported, we know this leads to increased risk and injuries to officers responding to these explosive situations.  Therefore, it remains critical for officers to know their rights when injured so they are not left to bear the financial and health burden of these injuries, as they are unable to earn their typical pay including overtime and detail wage.  Of course, it also goes without saying officers face risk of exposure to Covid-19 in these and all other interactions, for which we owe them an ongoing debt of gratitude.  What follows is a brief recap of one such case where we made substantial recoveries for two officers injured by an abuser with a houseful of guns and ammunition who refused to cooperate after admitting he had assaulted his wife.

It was just before midnight when Mrs. Reed dialed 911 informing the police her husband grabbed her, pushed her, and threw her.  Three officers responded, and Mrs. Reed met them at the door while Mr. Reed sat inside.  While explaining what happened, Mr. Reed overheard her tell the officers she had asked him to leave at which point he began yelling that it was “his house” and he was “not leaving.”    Mrs. Reed told the officers she believed her husband was addicted to opiates and had been drinking.

Turning to Mr. Reed, he admitted to pushing his wife but said he simply needed her out of his way.  He smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot.  He attempted to explain away a scrape on his foot stating he had accidentally scraped it on a doorway.

The sergeant on scene relayed the basis for probable cause to the shift commander who instructed the sergeant Mr. Reed had both a license to carry, and several firearms that Mr. Reed must surrender.  Upon informing Mr. Reed that he was under arrest for assault and battery and had to surrender his license to carry and his firearms, Mr. Reed became increasingly hostile.

Mr. Reed told the officers he had guns “all over the house,” 50 guns in a safe in his basement, and his license to carry was in his car, which they were not going to take.  Mr. Reed began walking away from the officers telling them he would make some calls.  The sergeant advised him he could not, and he was under arrest.  Mr. Reed began challenging the officers and asking “what are you a tough guy?”  The sergeant again instructed Mr. Reed to put out his hands and submit to arrest.  When Mr. Reed refused, the sergeant reached for Mr. Reed’s arm, who backed away and began throwing punches at the two officers present, Officer White and Officer Blue.

As Mr. Reed lashed out at the officers, landing a punch in the sergeant’s chest, Officer Blue sprayed Mr. Reed with OC spray.  Despite that, Mr. Reed continued to resist the officers as Mrs. Reed yelled at him to stop resisting. Due to Mr. Reed’s violent struggle, both Officer White and Blue had to go hands on with him to take him to the ground.  They successfully brought him down hard to the ground but bore the brunt of the damage for months and years to come.

It is the law in Massachusetts that any person who refuses to submit to a police officer exercising his lawful authority to detain, arrest or place in protective custody, and causes injury to an officer in the process, is liable for injuries suffered by that officer.  Further, we know through decades of experience that the financial and emotional toll of being out of work due to on-duty injuries is dramatic for officers and can wreak havoc in their lives.  Only through these cases can they be fully compensated for lost wages, pain and suffering.

Mr. Reed ultimately received a suspended sentence and probation.  Officer White suffered two tears in his left knee requiring surgery which kept him out of work for a year.  Officer Blue suffered a broken left wrist, which kept him out of work for three months.  Each officer suffered the obvious pain of these injuries and a complete disruption of their lives.  While their claims were initially rebuffed by the insurer for Mr. Reed, we were eventually able to recover $205,000 for Officer White and $50,000 for Officer Blue.  These funds secured them financially and recognized the serious harm brought upon their lives by Mr. Reed’s indifference not just to his wife but to the first responders there to protect her and the community as well.

Consult with us early on, so we can determine whether you have a viable case and to learn what your rights are.  Sometimes we need to do some investigation to determine whether a case is worthwhile to proceed and often undertake critical investigations of our own to ultimately secure a successful outcome.  Decisions about whether to proceed with a claim always belong to the injured officer, not us, and can be made later.  When we work on these cases, we work on a contingent fee basis. That means the injured officer pays nothing up front, nor while the case is pending.  He or she only need pay for legal services and expenses at the end of the case, if we successfully collect money on their claim.   In the off-chance we are unable to collect money for the injured officer, the officer owes nothing for our services.

-Zachary M. Ballin, Esq.

In order to protect the privacy of the injured officer and witnesses, all names have been changed. Any resemblance to names of real persons, past or present, is merely coincidental and not intended. The injured officer agreed to have this article published in order that public safety officers around the Commonwealth be better educated about their legal rights to compensation when injured.