A Case in Arizona
In January this year, a young black man is seeking 11.5 million from police in Phoenix in a police brutality lawsuit. It was a case of mistaken identity, but he was hit by rubber bullets and wrestled to the ground by four white Phoenix police officers. He was hospitalized for 20 days, and he required heart surgery to recover from his injuries. He argues that the encounter did more than long-term physical damage, and he is filing a claim in which he accuses the officers of excessive use of force, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence. He claims that he was left for four hours without any medical attention. Humphrey, the individual filing the claim, notes that the plaintiff now feels that he isn’t safe around police, and that every time he sees them, his “heart will start to race and [he] will start to feel like [he’s] panicking.”
This event is representative of many incidents where black individuals seem to be disproportionately targeted by police officers. Accusations of Police brutality, which is defined as incidents where unnecessary force is applied, or when confessions to crimes are forced, are not uncommon in Arizona. Many police departments in Arizona face angry protests of police brutality, especially in regards to unarmed black people. This is evidence that awareness surrounding police brutality is rising is potentially amongst the American population, especially after the events of George Floyd. There was a recent event in downtown Phoenix where over 200 gathered to hear from families who have had someone hurt or killed. The protesters stated that they wanted city officials to know that they are not backing down in their efforts to seek justice, and that they wanted officers involved in each of their incidents to be fired and held accountable. Humphrey was one of the speakers at this event.
Filing claims against incidents of police brutality remains the only potential solution for victims. However, filing claims requires a large amount of evidence, as police officers are often protected by something called “qualified immunity.” This is a degree of protection that is also extended to other government officers. Qualified attorneys are able to provide help with collecting the evidence, as it is especially important to build a strong case to win a legal battle against potentially strong criminal defense lawyers. In the case of Humphrey, he is asking for a settlement of $10 million, along with $1.5 million for his father, to cover past and future medical expenses and mental anguish. Even if compensation is given and the claim is won, there will still be further justice to be sought, to address the reasons why this incident occurred in the first place.