Los Angeles, California is large city famous for a number of different things, but the city of angels also has a stained history of police brutality. Starting with the infamous Rodney King beating in 1991 to more recent times, police misconduct always makes headlines in Los Angeles. Current events published in the metro area are regularly filled with similar law enforcement problems. Yet police brutality is so widespread and common in the area, even some significant incidents tend to get overlooked.
A Widespread Problem
In 2018, both Grechario Mack and Kenneth Ross Jr. were shot and killed within less than a day of each other under suspicious conditions. Both men had mental health issues, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths seem to suggest that they posed no significant harm. Mack was shot in the middle of the day while holding a kitchen knife in a public shopping area, and Ross was in the process of running away from police when he was shot to death from behind by a high powered rifle.
The families of both of the victims and the Black Lives Matter movement have characterized these incidents as indicative of a serious, widespread issue. Police killings of residents in the Los Angeles area, especially black men, seem to have become a normal occurrence to the point where the deaths of Mack and Ross received little media coverage or public outcry.
Los Angeles has consistently led in the nation in deaths caused by police. Over the last several years, their body count has increased by one approximately every five days. This means there are more people who die from police in a few days in Los Angeles than in some entire countries each year. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that no officers have been criminally prosecuted by Los Angeles County in over a decade. This effectively makes civil lawsuits against the departments after the incident the only possible remedy for victims and their families. It also means there is a culture among departments that is indifferent to this kind of misconduct, because the default solution is to just give the officers the benefit of the doubt and not formally discipline them.
How do Lawyers Help?
The process for filing a lawsuit involves lawyer creating an initial complaint against the department based on the information you can provide to make a case against a problem officer. After the lawsuit is filed with the court system, the department has to respond to your lawyer with any information they may have about the incident as they receive details. This exchange of information back and forth is called the discovery process. At a certain point when both sides have enough evidence and have spoken to witnesses, the parties can decide to either go to trial and have the jury decide if the officers are liable, or the department may decide to settle out of court for a monetary sum if it looks like the credible evidence against their officers is going to make them look bad and lose the case.
While only the government can decide to file criminal charges to punish the officers, this rarely happens or ends up in convictions for the prosecuted officers. Therefore, the most realistic route for victims is to contact an attorney to proceed with a civil lawsuit against the officers and the department. While the officers may not go to jail, a large monetary judgment against them can still be a strong form of punishment and deterrence.
If you are one of the many victims of police officers in the Los Angeles metro area, you should not feel afraid or powerless because there are proven ways to get help. One of the only effective procedures for fighting back is to file a lawsuit against the department. Also keep in mind that there are lesser forms of police brutality and misconduct than the recent murders described in this article. Mistreatment by officers can come in the form of failing to follow proper procedures for safety and medical care. Many oversights, omissions, and abuses can also be classified as police brutality.
Contact a local attorney practicing in California in the Los Angeles area to get help now and discuss your particular case.