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Family Wins Wrongful Death Claim Against Cottageville

AR-130809842It’s not often that you hear a story about a police officer’s shooting and killing their mayor, but that’s exactly what happened in Cottageville, South Carolina. Now the little town has been named the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit of their late mayor, Bert Reeves.

The case is being handled for Reeves’s children by attorney Mullins McLeod. In addition to the town of Cottageville, both the police department and the officer who shot the mayor, Randall Price, are also named as defendants.

One of the sticking points in the case is the events leading up to the shooting of Reeves. McLeod insists the fact that Reeves was upset with Price who had recently arrested one of the mayor’s employees makes the former police officer’s actions suspicious.

“Our investigation leads us to believe that Price confronted Mr. Reeves on a dirt road. It was not a routine traffic stop. What exactly happened during that encounter, we don’t yet know,” McLeod said during an interview. “What we do know is that Bert was unarmed and we don’t believe that deadly force was justified.”

Another sticking point for McLeod is Price’s background. He doesn’t understand why the Cottageville Police Department choose to hire the man who was fired from no less than three different jobs before landing the one in Cottageville. The reasons for the previous firings include the use of excessive force and brutality.


McLeod suspects that it may have been Price’s aggressive approach that actually appealed to the town which depends on traffic tickets for 70% of its yearly revenue. He suspects that the town hoped that the officer would not be inclined to let anyone go with a warning and that he would write tickets with more lucrative fines than the other officers employed by the town.

Price doesn’t deny that he has an aggressive personality, but he pointed out that mayor wasn’t always the nicest of guys. Reeves had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. When questioned about the incident, he says that Reeve confronted him and then flew into a rage. Price said he didn’t fire his weapon until Reeves began throwing punches.

While the incident was investigated by South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division, they never formerly charged the officer.

When the case was unable to be settled out of court, it went trial where a jury awarded the plaintiff $7.5 million to cover actual damages, an addition $60 million for punitive damages, and $30 million for punitive damages which was set against Price.

legal-case-attorney-flag1-300x199“It always makes me feel good to hear about a case like this where the family of the deceased is able to walk away the winner,” said Attorney Joseph Sandefur of Joe and Martin, South Carolina’s top personal injury firm. “I hope the town of Cottageville learned a lesson and takes more care when hiring the very police officers who are supposed to protect the citizens.”

If you have been a victim of police brutality, contact an attorney and learn if you have the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

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