Imagining a family member hurt or killed by the hands of law enforcement is a thought almost too horrific to entertain. Having to, then, figure out how to pay for medical bills, special therapies, or even burial costs is unimaginable altogether. However, there are families who have needed to crowdsource these expenses after these encounters with police, says Revolt. When a civilian is harmed or killed by police brutality, they are not considered victims, unless specified as such. Neither are their families. California is trying to change that.
What is Bill SB 838?
On May 28 of this year, the California Senate will be considering bill SB 838, which proposes easier monetary compensation for victims and families of victims of police brutality. Right now, a civilian harmed by police brutality, or “traumatizing encounter” needs to be identified as a victim through the police report to receive financial compensation, says the article. Families would be able to use other evidence besides the police report to receive compensation through the bill, says Public News Service. Monetary support would come from the California Victim Compensation Board with assistance in burial costs, counseling, and medical bills.
This bill will help victims and their families such as Sean Monterossa, 22, who was shot and killed in 2020 by law enforcement who thought the young man had a firearm, says NBC News. The detective, with the Vallejo Police Department for six years, shot five times through his vehicle windshield, fatally shooting Monterossa. What was found later, through body cam footage, was a hammer in Monterossa’s pocket. The detective has since been fired, a private investigation concluding the fatal shooting to be “not objectively reasonable,” reported NBC.
Michelle Monterrosa, sister of Sean Monterossa, told Public News Service how she felt about his death. “Unfortunately, because our loved ones were killed the way they were, you know, we’re not considered victims, they are not considered as victims. So, therefore, we’re continuing the cycles of trauma and harm.”
San Francisco is not unfamiliar with police brutality, Michelle Monerossa told CNN, stating that activism began young, with teachers canceling classes to protest students’ deaths and attend vigils.
This bill will redefine “crime” as it pertains to victims and compensation to include incidents on or after January 1, 2024 who have sustained bodily injury or death because of a police officer’s actions. Whether or not the officer was arrested, charged, or convicted of the incident is irrelevant, reports Open States. As of right now, the law is able to deny an application if the victim “did not cooperate reasonably with a law enforcement agency in the apprehension and conviction of the person committing the crime.”
As a victim of police brutality or as a family member of a victim, it’s difficult enough to move on with life as it was before. With this new bill it’s possible to, at least, aid in the aftermath of police brutality should it occur, and families can rest knowing that they can afford to help or bury their loved ones without financial concern.
Justice Cannot Wait for Police Brutality Victims
What happens to the families of police shooting and brutality victims now? There’s no time to wait, especially with the statute of limitations in California for wrongful death. We cannot wait for bills to be passed—action must be taken immediately against police abuse of power and that is where San Bernardino and LA Civil Rights Attorneys at The Sehat Law Firm come in. We are experts in this field and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Please contact us if your loved one was a victim of wrongful death by police.