Seizure of personal property can be a violation of your rights.

The strongest tools you have, as a citizen in Martin County, Florida or anywhere in the United States, are to know your rights, and how to back down in a situation when a police officer is escalating the engagement into an arrest.  Quietly let the officer arrest you and fight your claim after you are in a zone where there are other people to hear both sides of the argument.

In 2018, there was a case in Martin County where a citizen filed a claim due to a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, when his constitutional rights were violated by a Martin County Police Officer for seizure of his iPhone after he took photos and videos of a car accident crash scene from an interstate grass median as a bystander, but he did not take any pictures that had the victims in it, only the scene. The officer claims that the phone (phone seizure claim) had State evidence on the plaintiff’s phone that would be in danger of destruction including pictures of the accident scene that he was not involved in.  The District Court determined that this seizure did constitute a Fourth Amendment violation.  The Plaintiff in this action was arrested because he would not leave the scene of the crime without the police officer returning his phone. The police officer used his authoritarian force to deny the phone and arrest the plaintiff because he would not comply with the officer’s request. This was an instance where the engagement of the police officer and a citizen was escalated to the point of an unfair arrest.

 

 

Martin County Florida Police Department takes police misconduct complaints and allegations seriously.  All complaints are objectively investigated by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office Professional Standards Bureau, Internal Affairs Unite, to make sure the public is safe from abuse of power by the police force, and if misconduct is suspected, transparency of reporting is swiftly and clearly reported to the public.  Surrounding police departments of Sewall’s Point and the Jupiter Police Department all share the same values of professionalism, integrity, impartiality, respect and sensitivity to the community.

It is important to know your rights when involved in a police engagement that you believe unfair with regard to your liberties.

Bias-based profiling is frowned upon in all Police-initiated actions. These include all investigative detentions, field contacts, traffic contacts, arrests, searches, asset seizures and forfeiture efforts. Officer’s actions will be based on a standard of reasonable suspicion or probable cause as required by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and statutory authority. Officers must be able to support circumstances, facts and conclusions supporting reasonable suspicions for an investigative detention or traffic stop, or probable cause for arrest. Officers shall not consider race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender identity or sexual orientation in establishing either reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or as a basis for requesting consent to search.

Criminal profiling is a legitimate tool in the fight against crime. It is an investigative method in which an Officer, through observation of activities and environment, identifies suspicious behavior by individuals and develops a legal basis, consistent with the Fourth Amendment, to detain and question.

Laws Addressing Police Misconduct.

Federal laws addressing police misconduct include criminal and civil statutes to cover officers’ action in State, county and local jurisdictions including prisons and jails.  The laws are to protect all people in the United States whether they are citizens or not.  Recent statistics from 2018 reveal that people have been killed by officers at least 342 days in that year revealing the need for continued changes to reduce excessive and deadly “use of force” to subdue criminals, and those violating laws in the United States.

The 2018 Florida Statutes Chapter 776 outlines the law on “Justifiable Use of Force” as it pertains to Police Officer activity in Section 776.05 whereby an officer is justified in the use of any force:

  1. Which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest;
  2. When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or
  3. When necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice.

However, this subsection shall not constitute a defense in any civil action for damages brought for the wrongful use of deadly force unless the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by such flight and, when feasible, some warning had been given, and:

(a) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or others; or

(b) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm to another person.

 

Excessive force is not the only violation of police brutality: other actions include false arrest and wrongful imprisonment; wrongful search and seizure activity; sexual harassment; racial and gender discrimination; and general abuse against civilians.  Police brutality is an illegal and actionable offense to be remedied by affected persons, when misguided police officers overstep the boundaries of their “allowed use of force” as defined by individual State and local policy based in part, upon the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

  • 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.
  • 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.

If you identify with any of the listed forms of police brutality, talk to a Civil Rights legal professional who might be able to help you manage your damages.  Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury caused by police brutality or excessive use of force.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2018/776.05

https://www.justice.gov/crt/addressing-police-misconduct-laws-enforced-department-justice

https://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am4.html