Emerson Straw Represents Family in Police Wrongful Death Case
Adam Phillips, a 49-year-old Clearwater man, always texted his loved ones back promptly. So when he was unresponsive for nearly a day on February 27, 2020, both his daughter and girlfriend were rightfully concerned. They wasted no time in contacting the Clearwater Police Department and asking officers to check on Philips.
The station sent Cpl. David Nugent and another officer to his apartment. According to the department’s internal investigation, the officers yelled a few times after entering the unit, but Phillips did not respond. They proceeded to the bedroom, where they found him sleeping.
The report claims the officers never entered the bedroom; however, Nugent did say he tossed a magazine toward Phillips. It landed on his arm, but he didn’t move. The corporal informed the girlfriend that Phillips was in the apartment and was breathing. The investigation claimed the officers left with the belief that he was either sleeping or pretending to be asleep.
The following day, a different group of officers from the same department found Phillips dead in his bed after family members requested a second check. The magazine was still lying where it had landed the day before.
Now, Phillips’ daughter Alexis is taking action against the Clearwater Police Department. She believes the initial team of officers who conducted the first wellness check could have saved her father’s life had they done their jobs correctly.
The department’s own investigation revealed that Nugent, a 25-year veteran on the force, failed to make the proper inquiries for such a standard call. He also failed to develop an appropriate plan with his back-up officer prior to entering the residence. The report concluded that Nugent had been negligent, and the department reprimanded him.
While the results of the department’s internal investigation are certainly validating for Phillips’ surviving loved ones, a mere reprimand is not enough to make right the officers’ wrongs. As such, Alexis enlisted the help of attorney Wesley T. Straw, who has been trying civil cases for more than a decade. Backed be exceptional legal representation, Alexis Phillips hopes to hold the local police department financially accountable for their wrongdoings.
The results of Phillips’ autopsy revealed that he had passed sometime between the two wellness checks from an accidental overdose. He had been prescribed opioids for chronic pain stemming from an unsuccessful hernia surgery, knee problems, and spine issues.
In 2016, police in Clearwater became the first in the Tampa Bay region to carry naloxone, which can reverse the life-threatening side effects of opioid overdoses. As such, it’s reasonable to assume that had Nugent and his back-up officer done their job, Phillips might still be here today.
This is the crux of the issue for Alexis and the rest of his surviving family members. They believe they had done all they could to ensure his wellbeing as soon as he was uncharacteristically unresponsive. They only wish the officers they’d called to check on him had, as well.
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If you were seriously hurt—or someone you love died—because of another party’s negligence, turn to Emerson Straw. We are committed to helping injured parties and their families recover the funds they need to put their lives back together in the wake of tragedy. Call (727) 821-1500 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.