Fatal Shootings by Police

Any time an officer injures or kills a citizen in the line of duty, the police department conducts an internal investigation. At the Law Offices of John L. Burris, we know all too well that those inside investigations are not reliable, especially after a shooting death.

The police have a vested interest in declaring that the use of deadly force was justified. They never like to admit that an officer was too quick to pull the trigger, especially on an unarmed suspect. Instead, officers cover for each other and try to blame the victim.

“The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them.”
— Lois McMaster Bujold


Concerned that your loved one will not get justice?

Contact our Oakland law firm if a family member was killed by police. Our lawyers take cases in the Bay Area and throughout Northern California.


Proven Results in Deadly Force Litigation

A former prosecutor, attorney John Burris became interested in police misconduct in 1979 after he was appointed to investigate the shooting death of Melvin Black, a 14-year-old African-American youth fatally shot by Oakland police. That case introduced him to the “blue wall” — rather than reject a trigger-happy comrade, police tend to close ranks in an “Us vs. Them” response.

Since opening his own practice in 1985, Mr. Burris has prevailed in a number of deadly force lawsuits. Most involve fatal gun wounds, but we have also demonstrated fatal injuries from baton blows, a Taser or other police brutality.

Uncovering the Cover-Up
We assemble a team of the best legal minds and experts in police procedure and ballistics to help determine the truth. Sometimes the facts support the officers’ use of a firearm, but John Burris is relentless when evidence points to unjustified deadly force. Did the officers:

  • Identify themselves as police?
  • Have sufficient reason to believe the victim was armed?
  • Exhaust non-lethal options before opening fire?
  • Have proper training in the use of deadly force?
  • Fire on a fleeing suspect or a person who had surrendered?
  • Continue to shoot after the victim was down?

Victims in fatal confrontations with police often have their own ghosts — criminal convictions, substance abuse or a history of mental illness. That does not mean they deserved to die. At Law Offices of John L. Burris, we strive to keep the focus on the conduct of the officers and any indications of a cover-up.

If your loved one died at the hands of police, call us today at 510-839-5200 for compassionate, aggressive pursuit of justice.