Dangling handcuffs

Understanding Police Brutality and Misconduct

Police brutality and other forms of misconduct are unacceptable. But victims are often afraid to speak up and worry that the justice system will be stacked against them. While taking on the police is no easy task, having the right attorney will substantially increase your likelihood of receiving compensation for the injustices done to you.

What Is Considered Police Brutality and Misconduct?

You are innocent until proven guilty in the American justice system. Yet the police do not always understand this. Far too many engage in illegal behaviors such as:

  • Physical abuse. This may include anything from assault to beatings and even torture. Physical abuse can lead to serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and more. These injuries, in turn, mean substantial medical bills, lost time from work, and other consequences.
  • The use of excessive force. When subduing a suspect, police are required to use only the amount of force necessary to restrain the individual. A higher level of force may be needed to control a dangerous, violent suspect and thereby protect the officer and the public. But too often, the force used does not match the circumstances.

What is excessive force?

Excessive force cases have to be evaluated on an individual basis. These are some behaviors that may be considered excessive in a given situation:

  • The use of firearms
  • The use of a taser, pepper spray, or baton
  • How tight the handcuffs are
  • Punching and kicking
  • Holds, including chokeholds

Intimidation and threats of violence. These tactics are often used to attempt to gain information from a suspect, either about an alleged crime or about alleged co-conspirators. But intimidating and threatening behavior is also used, sometimes successfully, to trick suspects into waiving their rights. For example, you have a right to remain silent, but an officer may threaten you or your family if you don’t talk to them without a lawyer present.

Racial profiling. Unfortunately, this is a very real problem among police departments, especially here in Chicago. Profiling may include pulling over someone because of the color of their skin. In other cases, officers engage in surveillance of groups who have broken no law but make an easy target for harassment. 

Sexual assault and misconduct. Abuse of police authority may go as far as sexual harassment or assault. Police officers have raped citizens who are under arrest and have offered to trade sexual favors for the suspect’s freedom. This type of behavior is demeaning and a gross violation of an individual’s rights.

False arrest and false imprisonment. Police must have probable cause to arrest someone, meaning, a reasonable basis for believing you committed a crime. Absent this constitutional requirement, the police cannot detain you.

It’s critical to understand that you don’t have to be innocent of a crime to have a claim of police brutality or misconduct. You may be entitled to compensation, depending on your circumstances. For example, victims of excessive force may be awarded damages for their medical bills. Victims of false imprisonment may deserve compensation for lost wages suffered while they were held.

All citizens, even the criminally accused, deserve to have their rights protected. If you were a victim of police brutality or misconduct, let the civil rights attorneys of Hale & Monico go to work for you. Call us today to discuss your case.