Hawaii – February 10, 2021

After a citizen complaint of police brutality, the Professional Standards Office is charged with ensuring the integrity of the Honolulu Police Department by conducting fair and impartial investigations into allegations of police misconduct. The division is divided into four sections: Administrative Investigation, Criminal Investigation, Quality Assurance, and Accreditation.  A police brutality attorney can assist victims with formal written complaints to the department and follow up with a civil, or criminal action against an officer and/or the department where they work.

Color of law.

Communities should be aware of illegal activities surrounding police brutality among their police departments and take actions against them.  The color of law refers to an act done under the appearance of legal authorization, when in fact, no such right existed. The term is used in the federal Civil Rights Act, which gives citizens the right to sue government officials and their agents who use their authority to violate rights guaranteed by federal law and states:

  • “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.”

When citizens push back against actions of brutality in the field, they may be met with more aggression and require the services of a criminal defense attorney to explain their side of the encounter.

Police misconduct.

Police misconduct involves the violation of the civil rights of a person and often the violation of both State and Federal laws. While the outcomes of misconduct may not be as serious as excessive force, they are still illegal actions against citizens.  When misguided police officers overstep legal boundaries of their job, it is imperative that a victim file a report as soon as possible to the police force of the offending officer, and/or the U.S. Department of Justice for misconduct involving:

  1. Excessive Force – utilizing more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death. Once the situation is controlled, there is no longer the need for force.
  2. Sexual Abuse/Harassment – unwelcomed sexual advances, requests or demands for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by law enforcement in the course of their job.
  3. False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment – unlawful restraint of a person’s freedom of movement by another acting in perceived accordance with the law.
  4. Wrongful Search and Seizure Activity – protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures” notwithstanding probable cause enabling a search warrant.
  5. Racial and Gender Discrimination – 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.

Importance of legal counsel.

Legal counsel can assist with a formal complaints against a department and when necessary, take action to file a lawsuit against the officer involved in police brutality actions.  A lawyer will build a case for damages, based upon the negative police encounter and the harms suffered by a victim of police brutality in Hawaii.