$3.5 Million Wrongful Death, Police Shooting Recovery

Won a $3.5 million settlement for the widow and son of an undercover Oakland police officer mistakenly shot and killed by fellow officers, and also won an appeal in that case making it harder for defendants to escape responsibility for their civil rights violations.

Related Documents
  • Wilkins v. City of Oakland, (No. C-01-1402 MMC) (N.D. Cal. 2004). district court order re: damages in civil rights wrongful death case

  • Wilkins v. City of Oakland, 350 F.3d 949 (9th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 125 S.Ct. 43 (2004). denying qualified immunity to police officers who mistakenly shot and killed fellow undercover officer
Related Headlines
  • Oakland Pays $3.5 Million To Family Of Former Officer CBS5.com, June 29, 2006 (BCN) OAKLAND The City of Oakland agreed Wednesday to pay $3.5 million in damages to the family of a former officer who was shot and killed by two other officers, according to a lawyer for the family.

Contact us to learn more about this case or to receive a free case evaluation.

Related Headlines
  • Expert in deadly force training criticized for record on police shootings
    Nico Savidge, Wisconsin State Journal, July 31, 2014

    More than 90 officers from law enforcement departments in 13 states are in Madison this week for training in high-stress situations such as officer-involved shootings. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office and others pushed for the Minnesota-based Force Science Institute to bring the training to Madison, in part because of a recent string of officer-involved shootings. But the center’s founder, Bill Lewinski, has emerged as a controversial figure on the topic of deadly force, derided by critics who say he sides too frequently with police and is called upon to testify in defense of officers in questionable shootings. Michael Haddad, an attorney in Oakland, California, said Lewinski has developed a reputation among police departments as someone who will defend an officer “regardless of how egregious the shooting is.” And a police oversight board in Canada said in 2012 it would stop consulting with Lewinski after his analysis helped clear a Vancouver officer in a controversial shooting, according to CBC News. ... Haddad represented the family of an undercover Oakland police officer who was shot and killed in 2001 when two other officers mistook him for a threat. After the family filed a lawsuit, the city of Oakland hired Lewinski to testify in defense of the officers at a deposition for the case, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The city ultimately settled the lawsuit for $3.5 million in 2006, the Chronicle reported. Lewinski has also been hired to testify in controversial brutality and deadly force lawsuits in the Twin Cities and Los Angeles, according to a 2010 profile in the Minneapolis City Pages. “He’s the guy they go to when they have a really bad, hard-to-defend case, and they have to put on some sort of defense in court,” Haddad said.

  • Expert witness in toy-gun case has history of siding with police
    Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 2014

    (07-11) 17:15 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Called on to investigate the fatal shooting of a toy-gun carrying 13-year-old boy by a sheriff's deputy, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch chose a consultant she described as "an independent, outside expert on human performance in high-stress encounters, such as officer-involved shootings." One quality of William Lewinski that Ravitch didn't mention was his reliability to side with police. ... The question that's now being raised is whether Ravitch, the district attorney, was trying to stack the deck with her choice of consultants. "He's an opportunist who will say whatever is expedient to get the cop off, so why in the world would any reputable district attorney's office rely on someone like him?" asked Oakland attorney Michael Haddad, who tangled with Lewinski over a 2000 police shooting in Oakland. Haddad is president of the National Police Accountability Project, a group of lawyers who sue police, often with the aid of their own experts. ... Lewinski's shoot-first doctrine led to what he described as a major victory in the case of Anthony Dwain Lee, a Hollywood actor who was fatally shot in the back by a Los Angeles police officer at a Halloween party in 2000 after showing up in costume and pulling out a real-looking toy gun. After Lewinski's research on reaction times showed that the officer could have been acting in self-defense, he said on his website, the family's $100 million suit against the officer and the Los Angeles Police Department was settled for $225,000. But there have also been defeats, like the case of Willie Wilkins, an undercover Oakland police officer shot to death by fellow officers as he tried to arrest a suspect in 2001. Lewinski, hired as an expert by the city in a damage suit by Wilkins' family, cast doubt on the testimony of other officers who claimed to have heard Wilkins identify himself before he was shot. Stress, he asserted, may have confused them or clouded their memories. Haddad, the family's lawyer, challenged Lewinski at a lengthy deposition and said the witness wound up admitting that his confusion-under-stress theory would apply equally to the officers who fired the fatal shots. The city settled the suit for $3.5 million. Lewinski is "charming," Haddad said in a recent interview, but "his opinions can be pretty flaky."

  • Reliance on expert in B.C. police shooting under scrutiny
    Curt Petrovich, CBC News, August 29, 2012

    The father of a man shot by Vancouver police while he crawled on his hands and knees is asking investigators re-examining the case to question the use of an expert who cleared the officer involved in the shooting. David Boyd says he believes the Vancouver Police Department and B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner should never have relied on the opinions of police psychologist Bill Lewinski. "It seems like he was the kind of witness you call in if you want to have the police exonerated," Boyd said. ... "When someone hires Bill Lewinski, they're not hiring an impartial expert," Michael Haddad told CBC News. Haddad is president of the The National Police Accountability project, an organization of civil rights lawyers in the U.S. In 2006, Haddad represented the family of an undercover cop who was shot by two rookie officers....