When a police officer displays rude behavior that might offend you but doesn’t violate your rights, you may consider filing a complaint with the department they work for. A complaint is a good way of notifying the department that one or more of their officers aren’t displaying the proper conduct while out policing. But, when a police officer causes you mental or physical harm as a result of them abusing their rights and authorities, then you might want to consider suing the police department. A lawsuit, unlike a complaint, will not only help you recognize an officer and their department for misconduct/corruption, but it could also allow you to recover damages (i.e. compensation that serves as financial relief) for the impact the officer’s unwarranted or illegal behavior has had on your life.
How do I sue a police department?
The lawsuit process is a complex process to say the least and will require assistance from a qualified police brutality attorney. Therefore, the first step you are going to want to take if you wish to sue a police department is to hire an attorney. USAttorneys.com works closely with some of the best police brutality lawyers and can help you find one in your area now.
After you connect with an attorney, they can help you identify the grounds you have, if any, to file suit. For example, if an officer violated the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the “OJP Program Statute,” you may be able to seek financial relief by way of lawsuit if he/she discriminated against you on the basis of race, color, national origin, etc. and engaged in any of the following acts:
- Harassment or use of racial slurs
- Unjustified arrests
- Discriminatory traffic stops
- Coercive sexual conduct
- Retaliation for filing a complaint with DOJ or participating in the investigation
- Use of excessive force
[Source: Department of Justice (DOJ)].
While the DOJ says an individual can file a civil lawsuit on their own, regardless of whether the act was considered to be an isolated incident or a pattern of practices, you must “first exhaust your administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the DOJ.” Now, there are instances that do not require you to file a complaint with the DOJ prior to initiating your civil lawsuit and a police brutality attorney can clarify for you when you would be able to do this.
After you identify your grounds for filing your lawsuit against a police department, you will need to collect your evidence.
When you choose to sue a police department, it becomes your word against the officer’s, and you can bet that his/her department is going to back them up in court. Therefore, your word (i.e. allegations) needs to be supported by evidence. For example, if the officer became violent with you during your arrest and you sought medical attention for the injuries you suffered once you were free, you could use the medical records as one form of evidence.
Some other things can that help support your case are dash cam footage, police body cam footage, witness statements, statements from other officers, etc. In order to recover the evidence you will need for your case, you likely are going to need to obtain permission, sometimes from the court before you are granted access to it. And the most effective way of doing this is having a police brutality lawyer do it for you.
Important: Aside from establishing your grounds to sue and collecting evidence to support your claims, there are several other steps you are going to need to take if you want your suit to be successful.
Find a police brutality attorney in your area who can help you initiate the lawsuit process.
Because many laws protect government agencies like police departments, you can expect to run into some challenges along the way, all of which a police brutality lawyer can help you overcome. If you are ready to find a lawyer in your city to help you seek the justice you deserve, USAttorneys.com is ready to assist you with finding one.