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Building a Strong Police Brutality Case Through Video and Medical Evidence

As recent headlines prove, many people become victims of police brutality. Those cases can be difficult to prove, but they are winnable by a Chicago civil rights attorney. It’s important to use solid physical evidence to win a case involving police brutality in Illinois. Video of what happened should always be obtained. It’s also crucial to gather medical records documenting the injuries of the victim.

What is Excessive Force in Illinois?

According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, what constitutes “excessive force” is a topic for fierce debate. Police officers are (by statute) authorized to use whatever amount of force they feel is necessary to prevent a suspect from hurting the officer or others while making an arrest. What is “excessive” depends on one’s perspective, and is hotly debated. Camera footage can be a powerful tool, to sway juries.

Using Video Evidence

Cameras are everywhere; on traffic lights, outside homes and businesses, and for most of us, in our phones.  

The George Floyd case in 2020 attracted national attention because a bystander took video on her phone, showing Floyd crying out for his mother after a police officer put him face down and held his foot on his neck. Floyd’s inability to breathe caused his death. As smartphones have become more common, more and more bystanders take phone videos of officers using excessive force and later offer those videos to the local news outlets. That footage can often later be obtained through subpoena.

While most brutality cases are not as extreme as the Floyd case, the outrage sparked by the media frenzy surrounding that murder has made it easier to find camera footage. The right of bystanders to record matters of interest to the public by phone video is protected by The First Amendment, according to the Virginia Law Review.

Medical Records

The second critical piece of evidence in winning a police brutality case is to document injuries. Patients can ask emergency room nurses to photograph bruises, cuts, broken bones, etc. and those photos should be taken as soon as possible after an encounter. Some hospitals may make those photos part of the medical record. 

Getting a copy of the medical records is just as important as the photos. The records from the emergency room or hospital admission should also be obtained as soon as possible after discharge. A few things to remember:

  • All hospitals have medical records procedures in place to make it possible for patients to obtain their records. 
  • There will be a charge for the copies, but it’s worth paying it.
  • Those records should be certified by the medical records department because that makes them usable in court. 

Get Help From an Experienced Civil Rights Lawyer

Have you been a victim of police brutality? Do you have photos, medical records, or video footage showing what happened? In Illinois, you must file within two years after the incident occurs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation if you want to discuss that with a civil rights attorney. We know how to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.