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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Domestic Violence Cases Can Be Dangerous For All Involved

Domestic Violence Cases Can Be Dangerous For All Involved


In May 2024, a senior airman from Hurlburt Air Force Base was shot and killed by an Okaloosa County deputy. The deputy was responding to an alleged domestic dispute call, having spoken to a woman who had apparently heard an argument. He stopped at the airman’s door, and according to body camera footage, the deputy shot before issuing any kind of command to the airman. The airman died at the scene with six bullet wounds – but the alleged domestic dispute was never identified.

Primary & Secondary Victims

Florida’s domestic violence statute defines this kind of crime as any offense resulting in physical injury or death, committed against a person who shares a particular relationship with the perpetrator (generally, a spouse, ex-spouse, unmarried co-parent, or a person who is or has been residing with the perpetrator ‘as a family’). Law enforcement generally takes these cases seriously – if they can find the place where the alleged dispute is taking place.

Domestic violence crimes can cause long-term physical and emotional damage to their victims. However, what many do not realize is that every domestic dispute has the potential to create what are known as secondary victims. Secondary victims are people who are affected by the existence of domestic violence, even if they are not the ones being attacked or mistreated. Children are the most common example, but anyone from friends to family members to total strangers may also fit the bill.

No Real Claim Possible

While the concept of secondary victimization is becoming more commonplace, particularly as it is studied, this does not mean that the family of the slain airman would have any kind of civil claim against the people who were allegedly engaged in a domestic dispute. In order to be able to recover in a wrongful death or any other personal injury case, the injuries must be foreseeable – in other words, it must be reasonable to infer that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries, with no other intervening cause. It seems unlikely that the existence of a domestic dispute would foreseeably lead to anyone losing their life other than one or both of the participants.

The airman’s family might, however, have a plausible claim against the deputy and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department. While the body camera shows the airman answering the door with a handgun in his hand, it was pointed at the floor and the airman made no aggressive moves. It was also shown that the airman had been calmly talking to his girlfriend, with no dispute occurring. It remains to be seen as to whether they will take legal action on that front.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been involved in a domestic dispute, you may not necessarily have to worry about unforeseeable injuries occurring – but charges relating to domestic violence are still very real and should be taken extremely seriously. A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you determine your options. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



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