What Is Police Brutality?
Generally, it’s when an officer (or a group of officers) use more physical force than necessary to control a situation. You’ve probably seen the recordings of police confrontations, but police brutality can also be:
Excessive force, especially on restrained individuals
Unwarranted use of police authority
Improper or otherwise illegal activity while on official duty
Unnecessary use of a firearm
When a police officer roughly handled an already handcuffed individual, harasses someone or otherwise acts inappropriately during an encounter with the public, he or she may be violating your civil rights, even if no physical injuries occurred.
Police Brutality And Abuse Are Civil Rights Violations
Nearly every kind of police misconduct is a violation of your civil rights.
Lawsuits against police are more complicated due to something called “qualified immunity.” Police are given a wider latitude to do their jobs without worrying about the threat of disciplinary actions or lawsuits just for doing their jobs and enforcing the law. Therefore, an attorney must prove that the police officer’s actions exceeded reasonable bounds, causing your injuries and violating your civil rights.
Police brutality, as well as other overreach by municipal agencies at the state, federal and local level, is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. These kinds of cases are commonly called “1983 cases,” because of the federal statute that details denial of an individual’s civil rights (42 U.S.C. §1983.) A “Section 1983” lawsuit can be filed against anyone employed by the state (including police officers) who denies an individual their Fourth Amendment rights. Section 1983 is the one most commonly used in lawsuits regarding police misconduct.
Suing The Cops
Unlike other types of lawsuits, police brutality cases are more difficult because of their qualified immunity. As the defendant, you’ll be required to prove that the police acted improperly to deny your civil rights. In order to do that, you’ll need to help your attorney prove your case by preserving evidence:
Write down everything as soon as you can to avoid forgetting important details
Save any damaged property (clothes, documents, etc.) and keep them in a safe place
Take pictures of injuries and any other evidence available immediately, and keep them safe
Get names, addresses and contact information of any witnesses
Keep good notes on any updates on your case, as well as names, numbers and titles of contacts and everyone you speak with regarding your case
This information will help your attorney accurately defend your case and represent you in court.
Police officers have a very difficult job, every day. Most police officers hard-working and are focused on doing their job the best that they can. Unfortunately, there are some with a badge who step over the line during traffic stops or other encounters with the public, or during an arrest.
The police have a sworn duty and obligation to protect the public and those they interact with. But what do you do when you’re harmed or injured at the hands of a police officer? At G. Gray Law , your rights—and your life—take priority.