Police brutality and excessive force remain a problem throughout the United States. While the police have difficult jobs, they are required to discharge them with respect for citizens’ individual rights. When they use excessive force instead, their victims can potentially be compensated.
If you’ve been victimized by a law enforcement officer, a civil rights attorney may be able to help. Hale & Monico holds police and other law enforcement agencies liable when they engage in police brutality and excessive force. Let us review your case and advise you as to your legal options.
Examples Of Police Brutality And Excessive Force
When a police officer places someone under arrest, searches them or their property, and otherwise interacts with a suspect, the officer can only use the minimum amount of force necessary to perform his or her duties. Police brutality and excessive force are terms that largely go hand-in-hand, and essentially mean that an officer has used too much force under the circumstances.
That last part, “under the circumstances,” is important. If a suspect fires at a police officer, the officer generally has the right to return fire. On the other hand, firing on an unarmed suspect, or one who is fleeing, may be considered excessive force. The key is to evaluate the officer’s actions in light of the circumstances, which means that police brutality and excessive force hinge largely on the facts of each individual case.
With those ideas in mind, these are a few examples of police brutality and excessive force:
- Escalation, or failure to use verbal commands and resorting immediately to physical force
- Unnecessary use of violence when a suspect poses no threat to the officer or the public
- Unnecessary use of tasers, stun guns, batons, or firearms
- Unnecessary strip searches performed on a suspect
- Illegal chokeholds and other uses of force against a suspect
- The use of unnecessary or excessive restraints on a suspect, which may cause injury
- Hurting a suspect while he or she is physically restrained
Actions like these could be a violation of a suspect’s constitutional rights, as well as state and federal law. Suspects, even those believed to have committed serious crimes, are entitled to be treated without the use of excessive force.
What Damages Might Be Available?
Every case of police brutality and excessive force is different. The advantage of retaining an experienced civil rights attorney is having someone who understands the sort of compensation that victims deserve. Depending on the circumstances in your case, you may be eligible for the following:
- Medical bills, including hospitalization, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and prescription drugs
- Loss of income for time missed from work due to hospitalization, treatment, and recovery
- Loss of earning ability if the injuries make it impossible to return to your previous job
- Emotional distress and pain and suffering
- Wrongful death in the event the suspect dies
Often, emotional injury is the most significant consequence. The loss of dignity and violation of one’s constitutional rights cannot be undone, nor can other damages. But an attorney can help you be fairly compensated for what happened to you.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of Police Brutality or Excessive Force
Victims of police brutality and excessive force are responsible for building a case and taking legal action against the officers and agencies who violated their rights. It’s also their responsibility to establish the nature and amount of damages they demand. These are the steps you should take if you’ve been harmed by law enforcement:
- Get medical attention immediately. Seeing a doctor is essential to getting medically necessary treatment for your injuries. But this also begins the process of documenting your injuries and generating important evidence you will need later. You should see a doctor, even if you think your injuries are minor or non-existent. Many injuries take time to reveal themselves, so let a doctor examine you.
- Start gathering and preserving evidence. Besides your medical records, you should start collecting and securing other evidence that may demonstrate what happened to you. This could be your own evidence, such as dash-cam footage or video you may have recorded on your phone. Or it could be evidence in the hands of a third party, like restaurant surveillance footage. An attorney can help you obtain this evidence. Also identify any witnesses who saw what happened, and talk to your lawyer about securing a copy of any video footage they may have recorded.
- Retain a skilled civil rights attorney. This is where Hale & Monico comes in. We understand the laws surrounding police brutality and excessive force cases, and we know what it takes to win. Our experienced team will evaluate your legal options, and if you retain us, we will get to work fighting for justice.
Contact Our Police Brutality and Excessive Force Attorney
Are you ready to get started on your case? Still have questions? Reach out to Hale & Monico. We can schedule your confidential consultation today.