Excessive use of force is the term used by both law enforcement and lawyers for situations when a police officer abuses their authority to violently arrest or detain someone when violence is clearly unnecessary. A typical example of excessive use of force is when police officers use weapons or their fists to injure someone who is already detained and handcuffed, meaning there was no longer a threat of violence. Excessive use of force lawsuits can also be brought in federal court to make police officers pay for injuries they cause.
The Los Angeles Police have had a number of these kinds of incidents over the years, and one arrest provides a textbook example of misbehavior that includes an unreasonable use of force.
LAPD officer accused of using excessive force during an arrest
The internal affairs department of the Los Angeles Police began to investigate an officer for using excessive force during an arrest that was caught on a video camera outside of an apartment building in Del Rey. The victim, Taaj Williams, was in handcuffs and standing up as the video begins. The officer pulls him behind a wall, and then Williams is seen falling to the ground. Apparently, Williams was forced to the ground so hard that he lost consciousness and received a black eye from the officer’s actions.
The officer eventually released Williams, but the victim stated that his memory went blank after he was thrown to the ground. After the encounter, it was also unclear why Williams was ever detained or what kind of incident caused the officer to respond to the area. The Los Angeles Police released a statement that they are working hard to maintain the public’s trust, and they will launch a personnel investigation to determine what happened and if any disciplinary measures should be taken. Williams and his family plan to retain a lawyer and take legal action.
What action should be taken?
The family of the victim in this story has the right idea. Once an officer is being investigated for excessive use of force, it means that if the allegations are sustained the officer will face administrative discipline from the department or even criminal charges from a local prosecutor. However, it is important to keep in mind that these are actions meant to punish the offending officer rather than compensate a victim and pay for their injuries. Evidence that such disciplinary actions are taking place is a good sign for a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit. This investigation will tend to show that there are corroborating factors which prove an officer acted inappropriately and injured someone. If the investigation of this officer uncovers any serious wrongdoing, it could leave a clear path to victory in a civil lawsuit for this victim to receive compensation.
Regardless of any actions taken by the police or a prosecutor to discipline the officer, it is still possible and recommended to file a civil lawsuit. These lawsuits remain the only way for a victim to receive financial compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other problems caused by police misconduct. A skilled lawyer can factor all of these costs into their argument for damages during negotiations with attorneys from the city or police department in order to reach a settlement or receive a judgment at the conclusion of the trial.
Get legal help after an injury caused by police
If the police have hurt you or a family member in the Los Angeles metro area or anywhere nearby in California, there is help available. A lawyer who specializes in filing lawsuits against the police in your area can speak with you and recommend a specific course of action based on your injuries.