Despite continued problems with police handing out unnecessary beatings on members of the public, there is progress being made in some parts of the country. Los Angeles has often been at the epicenter of the debate about police violence due to the combination of high crime areas and publicized cases of officers using excessive force. Yet this area along with the state of California may help bring about changes in use of force policies.
Use of force by police is anything but reasonable
Recent investigations have uncovered a pattern of abuse in the Los Angeles area as well as many other parts of the nation. A Los Angeles Times editorial by constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky speaks about some recent decisions where courts have deferred to police judgement in use of deadly force, along with the possibility of changing the current state of affairs. It seems that in the last few years years, the federal Department of Justice is less likely to use its power to issue consent decrees to intervene and force certain departments to undertake reforms. There are also much more incidents where disciplinary measures or criminal cases are being dropped because a department or prosecutor is simply making a determination that the use of force by officers is “reasonable” regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
The California state assembly was considering a bill that would allow police to only use deadly force when necessary to prevent imminent bodily injury or death.
Bills like this are necessary because there has been a troubling trend of appellate courts interpreting policies that allow police to use force broadly, even when innocent people are essentially murdered. However, the most hopeful method of placing meaningful limitations police use of force comes at the state and local level, where certain departments have experienced decreases in violence against both victims and police officers through new policies. Some cities such as New York and San Francisco have already experienced a decrease in officer involved shootings and police killed in the line of duty after these policies were put into effect. Even within Los Angeles, the LAPD made some changes in 2017 to its use of force policy to emphasize diffusing situations rather than resorting to violence. Changes in local laws and use of force policies do show some very real promise for reducing injuries and violence caused by the police as well as holding officers accountable if they resort to hurting someone rather than attempting to resolve a situation peacefully.
What can victims do to help make changes?
One of the best ways to raise awareness about police brutality is to utilize any available avenues to file a lawsuit and report misconduct when it occurs. As this issue continues to receive publicity, change are more likely to occur based on high visibility in the media and public sphere.
The services of an attorney are also helpful to make sure each and every claim is taken seriously. Many departments would prefer to cover up police misconduct and brutality, but having a tenacious advocate working on your behalf will help produce the best chances of disciplinary measures being taken. If you experience any kind of injuries or trauma after a police encounter, a civil lawsuit still remains that avenue that is most likely to result in a win for the victim in the form of a settlement or a judgment after a trial.
Receive payments from a settlement or lawsuit
If you have been hurt or mistreated by a police officer anywhere in the Los Angeles metro area, you do not have to wait for reforms to take place. It may be possible to file a civil lawsuit and receive compensation. Talk to an experienced local police brutality lawyer to receive further information about how to move forward with your case.