Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a city commonly thought of as a tropical destination for tourists on Spring Break or people going on cruises. However, the city also has a dark history of police misconduct. Encounters with local police have turned violent on numerous occasions, and these interactions can result in serious injuries and legal problems. Despite these issues, there are also a number of victims who have been able to win judgments or settlements against the offending officers. There are ways to be compensated for injuries and suffering through skilled legal representation.
Two Related Beatings
Recently a video surfaced of a Fort Lauderdale police officer slapping a homeless man across the face and knocking him over in a public area. Because it appeared that the man had no physical contact with the officer, and that the officer was the aggressor, the department ended up settling with the man for $50,000. However, the officer was found not guilty of the criminal charges filed against him for the incident. Just eight days after the trial, a woman named Jessica Mooney who had testified against the officer was beaten herself. Police alleged that she did not pay her bill when leaving a local restaurant, which was determined to be false, and also charged her with neglect for improperly handling her child. Mooney claimed that after being taken to the station, they smashed her face into a fingerprinting machine and several officers kicked her as she fell to the ground. Photos were taken of numerous cuts, bruises, and scratches on her face, arms, and chest. The department has surveillance video from the area where these incidents happened, but they are refusing to release the video citing apparent security reasons. This raises obvious concerns that the actions taken against her were retaliation for her testimony at the trial. It is also alarming that police brutality is common enough in the area that these two recent incidents would be linked together. Such consistent misconduct shows a pattern of disrespect for the proper execution of law and widespread corruption.
What can be done?
As mentioned in the previous section, victims of police brutality do often receive monetary settlements for their suffering, while criminal charges against the police are less likely to turn into convictions. Lawyers can file suits against the individual officer and their department for improper conduct during their law enforcement duties. Under the Florida public records law, documentation can be requested about each individual officer and their history of using force or other misconduct and complaints against them. A lawyer can use this information along with other evidence such as videos, pictures, and testimony to build a case against the officer and their employing department. The previous incident also mentions the possibility of falsified charges against a suspect, which indicates reckless disregard for the law and a wrongful arrest. All of these factors taken together can be used to create cases against the officer and department, and in certain situations they may choose to settle out of court by paying the victim. In cases where injuries are severe or the level of police misconduct is obvious, the settlements will be larger. Police brutality can also be fatal at times, and wrongful death lawsuits can compensate the surviving family members to help them recover financially and emotionally after the death of a loved one. There are a number of ways that an expert lawyer can build a strong case from a police brutality incident.
Contact a Local Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been victimized by the police in the Fort Lauderdale area, please contact an attorney to get help. A lawyer who is licensed in the state of Florida with experience in winning cases against police departments can speak with you. They will want to hear more about the specifics of your individual case. With this information, they can recommend a course of action and try to bring those at fault to justice.