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Woman Accidentally Shot by Agawam Police May Wish to Sue

Early Saturday, Agawam police accidentally shot a 21-year-old woman while responding to a 911 call about a break-in and domestic assault at an apartment building, The Associated Press reports.

According to authorities, police heard shouting and the sound of breaking glass coming from inside the apartment.

The responding officers reportedly prepared themselves to enter the apartment. Before they could enter, however, the gun of the one of the officers fired, hitting the woman, according to police.

The woman's gunshot wound was nonfatal, and she was treated at Baystate Medical Center, according to authorities. Police haven't released any information about the identities of the woman or the officer involved in the shooting.

According to authorities, a suspect related to the 911 call fled the apartment following the shot, but was apprehended by the police.

The 21-year-old victim of the accidental shooting may choose to sue the police officer who shot her to collect compensation for her injury. However, suing police officers in their individual capacity can raise issues of civil rights law. In addition, police officers are often protected under the doctrine of qualified immunity.

The defense shields government officials from liability for the violation of a person's constitutional rights. State and federal employees who perform discretionary functions are protected from civil liability as long as they didn't violate clearly established law.

If the shooting victim here chooses to bring a civil suit against the Agawam police officer, qualified immunity may prove to be an insurmountable barrier. Agawam police, state police, and the District Attorney's office are currently investigating the shooting.

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