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Calls for grand jury investigation into death of 19-year-old

Though criminal activity is never excusable, neither is excessive force by the police. Laws are in place to prevent illegal actions by citizens and the authorities must respect the rights of criminals when they are taken into custody. If police officers step too far, they can fatally wound a criminal who does not necessarily pose a threat, bringing wrongful death suits upon themselves and the city they represent.

The use of excessive and sometimes fatal force by the police is a hotly contested issue in the state of New Jersey. The city of New Brunswick is preparing for a potential grand jury probe into the death of a 47-year-old man back in September. Now you can add Garfield to that list as the city has been asked by a civil rights group to investigate the fatality of a 19-year-old man over the weekend. The family has filed a wrongful death civil suit.

In a statement released on Tuesday, a civil rights group called for "an independent review of police use of force practices in Garfield." Referencing the New Brunswick case, the civil rights group hopes a grand jury investigation will be granted in Garfield as well.

The young Garfield man lost his life on Saturday, when he hid in a garage after escaping police custody. The 19-year-old grabbed some tools to defend himself, but after police entered the garage they fired and struck the man multiple times.

According to the statement made by the civil rights group they attempted to reach out to the county prosecutor to discuss policing policies, but "he has not been receptive."

It will take some time to determine the outcome of the Garfield case and potential grand jury investigation. Faced with a tragic loss, families need knowledgeable legal support to find out what their options are available to them. Recovering emotionally from a traumatic event such as a wrongful death is very difficult for many families, but getting on the right legal path can ease financial losses and even expedite the investigation process of the incident.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "Civil rights group wants probe into death of Garfield man killed while fleeing police," S.P. Sullivan, Dec. 15, 2011

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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