Florida – January 13, 2021

Excessive force is a form of police brutality.  A situation involving violence against an inmate has led to a now-former corrections deputy with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office being accused of using excessive force with proof of the encounter caught on camera.  The officer faces a charge of battery on an inmate following his arrest on a warrant from the State Attorney’s Office.  The inmate sat in a chair with his hands folded and the officer continued to engage verbally, eventually pepper spraying the inmate three times at different intervals, leading to the need for medical treatment.  The inmate may be able sue for harm, based on the expectation that a law enforcement officer should use his professional training and consider a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state during an encounter. A police brutality lawyer can guide any action by an inmate against a correctional officer.

Florida departments address excessive force.

Current officer training policies have addressed these complaints and activities by defining general guidelines for applying force, and they include measures to initially gain control by using verbal de-escalation where voluntary compliance is the desired outcome, and  secondary measures to only use the amount of force necessary to overcome and control a resistive person. The law enforcement officer in this case was relieved of his position.  A criminal law attorney may be able to explain how this interaction may be addressed in criminal and civil lawsuits.

Officer force  considerations include:

  • type and severity of the incident, or crime at issue,
  • person posing an immediate threat to the officer, or others,
  • person’s physical resistance to an arrest, or other lawful detention,
  • person fleeing from an arrest, or other lawful detention,
  • person’s physical, mental, and emotional state of being,
  • size, age, relative strength, skill-level, and physical condition of the person and the officer,
  • officer’s level of training and experience,
  • number of persons and/or number of officers on the scene,
  • duration of the incident, in relation to the physical resistance offered by the person,
  • time available to an officer to decide to use response to resistance levels of control/force,
  • person’s proximity, or access to weapons,
  • environmental factors and other demanding circumstances, and
  • officer’s perceptions at the time the decision to use force was made.

When an officer does not adhere to the requirements outlined in the justifiable use of force under Florida law, it may be time to speak with a police brutality attorney to see if legal action is warranted.

Justifiable use of force.

 The 2018 Florida Statutes Chapter 776 outlines the law on “Justifiable Use of Force” as it pertains to Police Officer activity in Section 776.05 whereby an officer is justified in the use of any force:

  1. Which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself, or another from bodily harm while making the arrest.
  2.  When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or
  3.  When necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice.

Seek legal counsel.

Federal laws addressing police misconduct include criminal and civil statutes to cover officers’ action in State, county and local jurisdictions including prisons and jails.  The laws are to protect all people in the United States.  Victims of police brutality should speak with a police brutality attorney who may be able to act to secure damages.