False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment.
False arrest and wrongful imprisonment are illegal. If you feel that a police officer unlawfully restrained you or someone you love from the right of freedom of movement through actions perceived to be in support the law, a formal complaint should be considered. A teenager was arrested at his family’s Panama City home due to an incident of an escalated event leading to false reporting whereby the officer stated, “the young man slammed a gate on his hand.” The father was videotaping the whole encounter, and it was later found that the police record of the incident did not state the truth, causing the young man to be falsely arrested, and an attack with pepper spray on the family dog. Fabricating evidence in order to make a false arrest violates the color of law statute, taking away the person’s rights of due process and unreasonable seizure.
Police brutality is an illegal and actionable offense to be remedied in the interests of victims, when misguided law officers overstep the boundaries of their “allowed use of force” in their roles as public servants who take an oath to protect and serve the communities where they work. Police brutality includes:
- Excessive Force – utilizing more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death.
- False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment – unlawful restraint of a person’s freedom of movement by another acting in perceived accordance with the law.
- Wrongful Search and Seizure Activity – protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures” notwithstanding probable cause enabling a search warrant. This is a violation of Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the right against unreasonable searches or seizures. A law enforcement official using authority provided under the color of law is allowed to stop individuals and, with reasonable supported suspicion, search them and retain their property. Violation of a person’s rights may occur when officers abuse their discretionary power, and unlawfully detain or confiscate property.
- 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.
Federal laws addressing police misconduct include criminal and civil statutes to cover officers’ action in state, county and local jurisdictions including prisons and jails, addressing illegal willful actions undertaken while using the power vested in them by a governmental agency. The phrase that defines this power is “under color of law.” It is a crime to deprive another person of their protected rights under United States Constitution (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242), and criminal and civil legal action can be initiated to remedy the injustice with the possibility of fines and/or prison time. The laws are to protect all people in the United States whether they are citizens or not. In the Florida Statutes, Chapter 776.05 outlines when an officer is justified in the use of any force.
Officers Must Make Professional Judgment Calls Regarding the Application of Force and Address:
1. The type and severity of the incident or crime at issue,
2. The person posing an immediate threat to the officer or others,
3. The person’s physical resistance to an arrest or other lawful detention,
4. The person fleeing from an arrest or other lawful detention,
5. The size, age, relative strength, skill-level, and physical condition (including injury or exhaustion) of the person and the officer,
6. The officer’s level of training and experience,
7. The number of persons and/or number of officers on the scene,
8. The duration of the incident, specifically in relation to the physical resistance offered by the person,
9. The time available to an officer to decide to use response to resistance levels of control/force,
10. The person’s proximity or access to weapons,
11. Environmental factors and other exigent circumstances, and
12. The officer’s perceptions at the time the decision to use force was made.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of police brutality through false arrest and wrongful imprisonment, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible to review the incident and begin the process of a formal complaint and/or legal action with the courts. A Civil Rights Attorney will be able to measure your damages, including hospital/medical expenses; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; and physical pain and suffering if you were injured during the unlawful arrest.