Georgia county refuses to pay medical bills after SWAT tosses grenade into baby’s crib

I looked into this a bit more. They aren't paying in this specific case as they are claiming state sovereign immunity for actions the police took in the course of their jobs. This principle is basically that police as agents of the government simply aren't liable in most cases for any damages that they cause in the course of executing their duties.

The extent of state sovereign immunity varies from state to state and different states, cities and counties vary massively in their willingness to settle police misconduct cases. Some have a policy of early settlement of valid cases while others fight every case. What the specific policy is is informed by local laws, ie. how strongly protected by sovereign immunity the police are in a given state and how likely the police is to win any given lawsuit. Some states have strongly limited immunity in the interests of curbing police misconduct while in others police have almost unlimited protection.

Georgia is particularly tough and fights these cases tooth and nail. Georgia state law also provides very few exceptions to sovereign immunity where the police can actually be held liable for damages they cause. As a result Georgia pays out very little in police misconduct cases, victims of police damages in most cases just have to suck it up.

So it isn't really anything to do with it being illegal to pay without a lawsuit being filed, even if a lawsuit IS filed the county would fight it. And looking over the case history in Georgia, they would very likely win; besides specific exceptions for damage caused by police vehicles (and only vehicles) it appears actual malice is required for the police to be found liable for damages, they are NOT liable for negligence in the absence of malice. This is a much higher standard than in the case of a private citizen or non-governmental employee, who are absolutely liable for negligence whether malice is present or not.

In this case, the police were executing a legal "no knock" search warrant and as such anything they do in the course of that has substantial immunity. They were mistaken, of course, but it would be hard to show that they had actual malice towards this kid or intended to injure him. And that sucks for the family, but if my reading of the law on sovereign immunity in Georgia is correct, as police they simply aren't liable for their fuck ups.

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