After 12-Year Legal Fight, Firm Secures $1.75 For Family of Man Killed By Police

On June 10, 2024, Bruce Barket, Donna Aldea, and Alexander Klein settled Callahan v. County of Suffolk for $1.75 million.  A shining example of the tenacity of representation offered at BEKAL, the litigation spanned a dozen years, four judges, and two make-or-break trips to the United States Court of Appeals—where Barket, Klein and Aldea won on both occasions. The settlement came on the doorstep of what would have been a second trial, and the resolution of the matter has drawn significant attention in the media, including from Newsday and ABC News.

The litigation centers around a shooting inside the Callahan family home on September 20, 2011, when a Suffolk County Police Officer fired four shots at Kevin Callahan—hitting him three times—while he was unarmed, in his basement, wearing pajama-like clothing.  The police had arrived at the household that day after Kevin, a struggling young man, had called his mother in a ploy for attention by telling her falsely that there was someone in the house with a gun.  After the call, Kevin’s brother phoned 911 to report what Kevin had said and to request that a police officer check on him, adding his suspicion that Kevin was just seeking attention. 

Law enforcement claims that after arriving at the home, one of the responding officers attempted to enter a bedroom in the basement when Kevin slammed the door shut on him.  The officer then opened fire with his hand trapped “down” by his hip, the officer claimed.  Yet ballistics evidence shows that the bullets hit Kevin high up on his body, and were traveling in a downward rather than upward trajectory.  Moreover, according to the officer himself, the doorway had “let up” after he fired the first shot, yet his resort to deadly force continued—as he fired an additional three bullets at Kevin, hitting his target twice more.  Kevin died at the scene.

During the pendency of the case, Kevin’s mother passed away.  She died without knowing how the odyssey surrounding her son’s death would end.  With this settlement, the family finally secures a measure of justice for the devastating loss that they suffered nearly thirteen years ago.