Should Police be required to wear body cameras?

Police Required to Wear body Cameras

It seems that nearly every day in the news, we hear about citizens having interactions with the police. Many of these interactions are positive, though there have been many documented cases where the public found the interactions disturbing, and those incidents have raised questions about how police conduct themselves in the field.

The police in Miami wear body cameras, as do the ones in Jacksonville and Orlando. In fact, body cameras are almost accepted as standard gear for police officers in Florida, except for one of the largest cities in the state – Tampa.

Attorney TJ Grimaldi is a strong supporter of police wearing body cameras and is urging the department to fund the program to equip every officer with a camera. As a personal injury attorney who has many years’ experience dealing in cases of wrongful death, he believes that body cams should be mandatory for police.

“I am all for cameras. They help solve questions, concerns, unknown issues and protect citizens,” Mr. Grimaldi says. “Further, they protect law enforcement and solidify evidence, testimony and opinions for all parties involved. They also help create a record of events that may otherwise be confused, forgotten, or simply made up down the road.”

In 2014, Jason Westcott’s home was raided by the Tampa Police Department and SWAT after an informant claimed he was selling drugs. According to police, Westcott brandished a firearm when they entered his home, and as a result, he was shot and killed on the spot. Police seized $2 worth of marijuana in Westcott’s home. Mr. Grimaldi now represents Westcott’s mother in a negligence lawsuit against the City of Tampa.

“For the Westcott case specifically, if law enforcement were wearing body cams, the footage could answer a lot of questions regarding Westcott’s placement, his possession of a gun, and what actually took place within the home, Mr. Grimaldi says. “This could have resulted in clear cut liability or solidified their claim of a lack of negligence which could have avoided litigation in this case, either way.”

Whether or not there is evidence to suggest that wearing a body camera would have any impact on crime rates, or how wearing a camera influences police decision-making and how officers engage with the public, making body cams mandatory could provide powerful information to supply answers to questions that otherwise remain unanswered.

The top 20 most dangerous roads in Tampa (Infographic)

Did you know that Florida is one of the most dangerous places in the country when it comes to deadly crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles? A study conducted by Smart Growth America found that Tampa Bay ranked #7 on the Pedestrian Danger Index. Even more concerning is that three roads in Tampa Bay are the deadliest in the entire state.

A report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that over a ten-year period, from 2007 to 2016, Florida had one of the most significant increases in fatalities and alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. In 2016 alone, more than 3,100 lives were lost because of crashes. Unfortunately, that trend is likely to continue to grow.

“Collisions can be caused by a variety of factors,” says TJ Grimaldi, a Tampa personal injury attorney who works with clients in personal injury, DUI-related and wrongful death cases. “The driver could be distracted by their phone, adjusting the radio, or a pedestrian might have headphones playing loud music and not be aware of their surroundings.”

When you’re driving in your car or walking on the sidewalk, your surroundings and circumstances can change in a second. Every person using the road needs to practice more vigilance and adopt better practices for being safe on our roads. Here is a map of the top 20 most dangerous stretches of roadway in Tampa.

dangerous_roads_tampa

  1. Brandon Boulevard, from Falkenburg Road to Dover Road
  2. Gibsonton Drive, Boyette Road, Interstate 75 to Balm Riverview Road
  3. Hillsborough Avenue, Longboat Boulevard to Florida Avenue
  4. Fletcher Avenue, Armenia Avenue to 50th Street
  5. Dale Mabry Highway, Hillsborough Avenue to Bearss Avenue
  6. Lynn Turner Road, Gunn Highway to Ehrlich Road
  7. Meridian Avenue, Channelside Drive to Twiggs Street
  8. Bruce B. Downs, Fowler Avenue to Bearss Avenue
  9. 50th Street and 56th Street, Martin Luther King Boulevard to Hillsborough Avenue
  10. 15th Street, Fowler Avenue to Fletcher Avenue
  11. Big Bend Road, U.S. 41 to I-75
  12. U.S. 301, Interstate 75 to Adamo Drive
  13. Sheldon Road, Hillsborough Avenue to Waters Avenue
  14. Interstate 4, Interstate 275 to 22nd Street
  15. 56th Street, Sligh Avenue to Busch Boulevard
  16. Interstate 275, Howard Frankland Bridge to Busch Boulevard
  17. Kennedy Boulevard, Dale Mabry Highway to Ashley Drive
  18. 78th Street, Causeway Boulevard to Palm River Road
  19. Mango Road, Martin Luther King Boulevard to U.S. 92
  20. Florida Avenue, Waters Avenue to Linebaugh Avenue

If you have been hurt in a car crash, either as a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorist, contact a personal injury attorney immediately to evaluate your case and make sure your rights are protected. You have a right to be compensated for your injuries, and an attorney can help you fight the insurance companies to get a favorable outcome.

To learn more about what to do if you have been in an accident, contact the law firm of McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi Guito & Matthews, P.A at 844-511-4800.

Tampa Bay Times: Widow’s attorney complains of delays in ‘stand your ground’ theater shooting case

attorney_tj_grimaldiAttorney and partner TJ Grimaldi of McIntyre Thanasides was featured in the Tampa Bay Times’ latest news story regarding updates to the highly controversial Curtis Reeves’ Stand Your Ground case.

 

 

T.J. Grimaldi, who represents Nicole Oulson, was reacting to a suggestion that Reeves might qualify for another chance at a self-defense claim under Florida’s retooled “stand your ground” law, after having been turned down once.

“I am almost at a loss for words over the constant unnecessary delays in this case,” Grimaldi wrote to the Tampa Bay Times.

“While sitting in the status hearing the other day, it was painfully transparent that the defense is delaying this case for two hopeful outcomes: one, force the prosecutors to provide a plea deal; or two, wait for Mr. Reeves to become frail and/or too sick to stand trial.”

Nearly four years have passed since a confrontation over a mobile phone at the Cobb Grove 16 cinemas ended in gunfire, killing Chad Oulson. His widow sued the theater, and Grimaldi represents her in that case.

Additionally, Reeves, 75, faces a second-degree murder trial.

To read the full story, click here.

Tampa attorney: Stand Your Ground law changes will cost more, endanger public safety

Stand your ground lawFlorida’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows potential victims to defend themselves forcefully if they have reason to fear death or serious injury, has made headlines since it was enacted in 2005. But key changes to the law promise higher prosecution costs and greater danger to the public, according to TJ Grimaldi, Tampa attorney and partner at the law firm of McIntyre Thanasides.

The original law gained notoriety through high-profile cases such as the killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the 2014 shooting of Chad Oulson in a movie theater. Oulson’s killer faced a pretrial hearing earlier this year. Grimaldi represents the victim’s widow, Nicole Oulson.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed SB 128 into law on June 9. Under this new version of Stand Your Ground, the burden of proof shifts from the defendant to the prosecution. Supporters expect the shift in burden of proof to protect the rights of defendants, but opponents of the change raise serious concerns. They call SB 128 the “Shoot to Kill” bill, and argue it will place a greater financial burden on the prosecution, and result in an increased case load and more deaths by lethal action. Critics, Grimaldi among them, believe the new law will increase costs for state attorney’s offices, putting additional pressure on prosecution resources.

The negative public health effects of the existing law were already noted in a study published last January by the Journal of the American Medical Association, which concluded that gun-related homicides in Florida increased nearly 32 percent between 2005, when Stand Your Ground became law, and 2014.

“From a public health perspective, we were shocked that in a given area, rates of people dying changed so abruptly and in such a sustained way,” study co-author Douglas Wiebe told ScienceBlogs. “These are people dying who otherwise wouldn’t have died. That is what is most profound about our findings.” Wiebe is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

The revised law will result in more plea deals offered, charges dropped, or defendants escaping prosecution due to prosecutorial immunity, Grimaldi said. “Dangerous defendants will have a much better chance at walking free. The change will cost the State Attorney’s Office, and in the end, the citizens much more to prosecute crimes. The State Attorney’s Office has a budget. To force it to carry the burden whenever this defense is raised will require a business decision, because the office cannot handle the increased costs.”

Grimaldi is intimately involved in Stand Your Ground issues. He currently represents Nicole Oulson, widow of the man who was shot and killed in a suburban Tampa movie theater by Curtis Reeves in 2014. Reeves’s defense sought and was denied Stand Your Ground in a pretrial hearing last March. But now the law has changed.

Since the burden will now be on the prosecution, a defendant will have nothing to lose by raising a Stand Your Ground defense. The deck, Grimaldi said, will be more heavily stacked in favor of the defendant.

TJ Grimaldi is an attorney and partner at the law firm of McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. He has been a featured expert on TV and in major publications, including Inside Edition, Crime Stories with Nancy Grace, Good Morning America, Nightline, The View, The New York Times, The Tampa Bay Times, and DailyMail.com.

To speak with Mr. Grimaldi regarding the recent changes in Stand Your Ground, contact him directly at tj@mcintyrefirm.com.

Victim of Assault? 3 Steps to Take Immediately

No one plans to become an assault victim, which is why many people are left confused or unsure what to do in the wake of an incident. Assaults cause both physical and mental trauma that can make it hard for victims to determine their next steps. If you or someone you know has been a victim of assault, immediately follow these three steps to ensure your safety and bring the attacker to justice.

Immediately Seek Medical Attention

The first step after any form of assault is to seek medical attention, even if you’re unsure about the extent of your wounds. Many problems don’t show immediate symptoms, and you could put your life at risk by avoiding medical care.

The professionals at McIntyre Thanasides are first and foremost concerned with your health and safety. Any other step can wait until medical professionals have treated any issues and deemed you healthy enough to leave their care.

Seeking medical attention immediately can also help your case in the future, as you will have documented proof of any effects the assault had on your physical and mental health.

Document Your Experience as Soon as Possible

After you are in a safe location and have received medical treatment, document the experience to the best of your ability. There are two important ways to do this:

  • Take photos or video. Images of your injuries and signs of a struggle can help the police and prosecutors understand your case.
  • Write down the entire experience. Include as much detail as possible. While it’s traumatic having to relive your ordeal, your memory is sharpest immediately after an assault.

After creating written and visual documents on the assault, you can return to these notes when you meet with police and prosecutors. The written record reduces the likelihood that you won’t remember a key detail or convince yourself that the situation was different than you thought.

Find an Experienced Attorney You Can Trust

In the wake of an assault, you’re likely to talk to dozens of medical professionals, law enforcement officers, and friends or family members. Knowing what steps to take can be confusing, and you could make mistakes that could hurt your case. By hiring a professional attorney who focuses on assault cases, you can make sure you’re making the right choices to bring your attacker to justice.

The longer you wait to complete these steps following an assault, the more you will struggle to make your case. If you need legal help following an assault, call the personal injury attorneys of McIntyre Thanasides at 844-511-4800 to discuss your case.

The Rise in Pedestrian Deaths and How to Combat It

pedestrian accidentDid you know that in 2016, the number of pedestrian deaths increased by 11 percent? Understanding why pedestrian deaths have increased might help citizens avoid similar fates.

Distracted Driving and Walking

According to NPR, distraction might have a considerable impact on pedestrian safety. Both drivers and pedestrians might find themselves distracted while on roads and sidewalks, whether they’re listening to music through ear buds or checking their phones for incoming text messages.

Smart Vehicles

Many forms of smart car technology exist, from intelligent cruise control and lane-drift warning systems to automatic braking and crash-avoidance systems. While these features are intended to improve driver safety, some drivers might rely on them too much.

If drivers assume that their cars will prevent collisions, for instance, they might pay less attention to the road. When brake lights appear ahead, they could wait a few extra seconds to tap their own brakes. These issues highlight the need for more education about how smart vehicle technology works.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

According to Car and Driver, roughly half of pedestrian deaths involve some form of substance abuse. An intoxicated driver can lose control of a vehicle, and an impaired pedestrian might stumble into traffic, unaware of his or her surroundings.

Preventing Pedestrian Accidents

Both motorists and pedestrians can help prevent accidents involving vehicles and people on foot.

Drivers:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, especially after dark.
  • Come to a full stop at all intersections and look in all directions.
  • Watch for pedestrians and cyclists and know where they are at all times.
  • Drive defensively at all times instead of relying on technology to keep you and others safe.
  • Never drive while impaired.

Pedestrians:

  • Use sidewalks when possible to avoid putting yourself in the path of a car.
  • Wear bright clothing when out at night so that motorists can see you.
  • Avoid leaving the house while intoxicated.
  • Check both ways twice before crossing a street.
  • Stick to surface roads instead of busier streets when possible.

What to Do If You’re in a Collision

If you’re involved in a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, never admit fault at the scene. Consult an attorney immediately to discuss your rights and options, and call the police so that they can document the situation.

When the police find that the other party might have been negligent, you could have a case. Call McIntyre Thanasides at 844-511-4800 to consult with one of our experienced attorneys.

 

Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Me if Someone is Injured in my House?

If someone is injured in your home, there are two questions you must answer:

  1. Are you responsible for the injury?
  2. If so, will your homeowners’ insurance cover the expenses?

Understanding how the law works and how insurance companies handle personal injury claims can help you make important decisions in the days following an injury.

Are You Responsible for the Injury?

For you to be held responsible for someone else’s injury on your property, you must have committed some form of negligence. For instance, if you know that the front steps leading up to your porch have rotted out, and someone falls through and breaks an ankle, he or she might have a case for negligence.

However, not all injuries result from negligence. Someone could trip over a rug in your home, but since you had no reasonable way to foresee that problem, you probably wouldn’t find yourself legally liable for the injury.

Courts use the reasonable person standard to determine negligence. In other words, given the circumstances, would a reasonable person have prevented the injury based on prior knowledge of a danger?

Will Your Homeowners’ Insurance Cover the Expenses?

According to Allstate, personal injury coverage usually comes with a homeowners’ insurance policy. It’s designed to protect policyholders from paying out of pocket when someone is injured on their property. The personal injury policy can cover several types of expenses, including the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Legal fees
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future medical bills
  • Death benefits

However, Allstate reminds consumers that insurance policies typically carry exclusions. If someone gets injured on your property because of a malicious action on your part, the insurance company won’t pay the claim. For instance, if you get into a fight with a friend and he or she winds up with a broken nose, your homeowners’ insurance policy won’t cover the related expenses.

What to Do If Someone Is Injured in Your Home

Working with an attorney who focuses on personal injury cases can help you decide how to cope with the situation. Whether you’re the homeowner or the person who suffered an injury, legal counsel can answer your questions, negotiate on your behalf, and protect your rights.

At McIntyre Thanasides, we pride ourselves on helping our clients achieve their desired outcome in a personal injury case. If someone has been injured on your property, or if you’ve suffered an injury at someone else’s home, call us at 844-511-4800 to discuss your case

Top 5 Causes of Truck Accidents and How to Avoid One (Infographic)

Sharing the road in the Tampa area isn’t always easy, especially when the other vehicles on the road are semi trucks. Before you get behind the wheel, discover the top five causes of truck accidents and learn how you can avoid them while staying safe on the road.

Abrupt Lane Changes

While it’s easy to blame truck drivers for incidents on the road, vehicle drivers cause their fair share of collisions, especially when they change lanes or pass semi trucks abruptly. To avoid a collision, always give truck drivers much more space than you think they need so they can slow down or stop on the highway.

Unsafe Driving

Truckers also engage in unsafe driving habits, such as failing to check blind spots and neglecting to use turn signals. In fact, poor decision-making is one of the most common reasons for truck crashes. While you can’t predict whether a truck driver will flip on the turn signal before changing lanes, you can protect yourself just in case. Never drive in a trucker’s blind spot, and avoid letting trucks follow you too closely.

Distracted Driving

Truck drivers put in hour after hour on the highway, and though regulations prevent them from texting or otherwise distracting themselves, these incidents still happen from time to time. When you approach a semi truck on the highway, be on the alert for signs of distracted driving, such as swerving, veering into another lane, or sudden stops. If you notice any, give the truck an extra-wide berth as you pass.

Physical Impairment

Incidents of physical impairment, such as the driver falling asleep or experiencing a medical emergency behind the wheel, are relatively uncommon. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that they account for nearly 10 percent of truck collisions. Always stay alert when driving near semi trucks, and don’t hesitate to call the trucking company in question to report suspicious behavior. You can usually find contact information printed on the rear of the vehicle.

Adverse Weather

The weather can change in an instant in the Tampa area, with bright sunshine one minute and torrential rain the next. Whether you’re driving on an open highway or a road that’s under construction, adverse weather can be distracting and dangerous. Avoid a truck collision by turning on headlights, slowing down to a safer speed, and refraining from making sudden moves on the road.

If you’ve been involved in a truck collision in the Tampa area, don’t wait to get the legal assistance you need during the claims process. Call McIntyre Thanasides for experienced legal help: 844-511-4800.