When a person is endangered by acts of police brutality, they can make a complaint against the officer involved in the negative police encounter and take legal action with the courts. Generally speaking, police brutality is the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. Physical force is most commonly cited in police encounters gone bad. Under color of law, police officers can use nerve gas, batons, pepper spray, and guns in order to physically intimidate, contain or harm alleged criminals. Police brutality comes in other forms such as:
- Excessive Force – utilizing more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death – this can lead to actions or accusations of crimes against a person including: 1) assault; 2) sexual assault; 3) battery; and 4) battery with a deadly weapon
- Verbal abuse, physical coercion, or harassment in the subtle form of making a victim uncomfortable by inducing pain or discomfort during questioning, or even torturing them to give the answers police desire, which may not be the actual facts of an incident.
- False arrest is the unlawful restraint of a person’s freedom of movement, and can result from police providing false information in a police report, offering false evidence or lying in cour
- Wrongful search and seizure activity, including unreasonable searches relating to gathered evidence, can cause an overturned conviction if it is found that the evidence was the basis of the charges posed on a victim by misguided police activities.
- Bias-based policing is the intentional practice by an individual law enforcement officer who incorporates prejudicial judgments based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, or age, that are inappropriately applied in the performance of his/her duties.
Support of claim against officer.
Victims of police brutality need to collect the names of all witnesses present during a law enforcement encounter, take pictures of his or her injuries and undergo a physical and psychological exam from a medical professional. Often times the success of a legal claim will need to show physical injury, and the strength of a case may depend on reports, witness testimony and visual evidence.
The recovery of damages after successful legal action may include compensation for: hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; costs for treatment for emotional distress and mental trauma including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; public humiliation and embarrassment; and loss of love and companionship in the case of wrongful death claims after the occurrence of police brutality.
During a court case, a judge or jury will consider many factors before they will decide upon an officer’s guilt using excessive force.
- Nature of the encounter or alleged crime
- Presentation of a threat to the officer
- Resisting or evading arrest
- Response time of the officer
- Type and amount of force used
- Availability of alternative methods to subdue the victim
- Risk to third parties at the scene
- Was warning given and/or could have been given
- Was domestic violence involved
- Was victim showing signs of emotional disturbance
- Did the officer have probable cause to arrest the victim
An attorney who is experienced in police brutality cases will be able to assist with the timeline and actions to take regarding a legal action against a police officer for police brutality.