Like some other parts of Florida, Fort Myers routinely experiences stressed relations between the public and the police. Traffic stops and other common interactions can quickly escalate when either suspects or officers feel threatened. In these situations, a victim individual should speak with a lawyer about their situation to have any chance of being compensated for their injuries.
A routine traffic stop in Fort Myers turned into a possible incident of police brutality after an officer used force on the driver for dubious reasons.
Man beaten during traffic stop
The stop began with the officer noticing a tail light that went out. As officers pulled the driver over and approached the car, they were alarmed by the presence of an open liquor bottle and suspected that the driver may have been intoxicated. After a brief conversation, the driver became frustrated and angry, and he apparently refused to let the officers search the vehicle. The police at the scene detained the man and searched his vehicle, also finding prescription medications and a gun. At some point while the man was in handcuffs, he was punched, hit with a taser, and kneed by the officers.
The victim filed a formal complaint with the Fort Myers department for excessive use of force. An investigation will determine what punishment, if any, is appropriate based on the information uncovered during the internal affairs review of the incident. Records checks revealed that the victim has been arrested 20 other times in Lee County for various crimes such as resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer.
Were their actions justified?
In a situation such as this, it seems that force would not usually be necessary to detain a suspect and take them into custody. Non-violent offenses such as drug possession do not create a safety threat for officers or others nearby, so there is not a reason to use force on suspects to make an arrest.
Unfortunately, when an administrative body that regulates the police such as internal affairs reviews the camera footage available and other evidence, they tend to give officers the benefit of the doubt and only sustain disciplinary measures against them in the most extreme cases. There is usually a factual determination made as to whether the suspect created any kind of imminent danger to those nearby, but it is difficult to justify hitting a suspect who is already handcuffed.
What else can be done?
Because the department and local government may not take any action against the officers based on the internal affairs complaint, it is necessary to retain private counsel to pursue the issue properly. An aggressive police brutality attorney can bring a lawsuit that alleges violations of civil rights and asks for damages that will compensate a victim relative to their injuries.
Get help from a police brutality expert
If you have been injured by the police in Fort Myers, Lee County, or anywhere nearby in Florida, it is possible to file a lawsuit against them for their actions. Michael M. Raheb offers free phone consultations, and he is experienced in handling all kinds of cases related to crimes and injuries.