The Lafayette County Police Department in Florida is committed to protecting lives and property, through service, integrity, trust, and respectable actions toward maintaining a safe community. Lafayette County, Florida has a population close to 9,000 people, and the crime rate reveals it to be one of the safest regions in the United States but that did not stop police brutality from occurring there. In the recent past in 2018, a Florida Correctional Officer was arrested for battery of an inmate. Policy on “use of force” for authorized police personnel including correctional officers must be reviewed as it is updated regarding current negative trends in police “excessive force” actions.
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 supporting the need for continued changes to policies that will reduce excessive and deadly “use of force” to subdue criminals, and those persons 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:
- Which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest;
- When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or
- 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.
Reasonable Use of Force v. Police Brutality.
Police officers are allowed the “use of force” including hands, batons, tasers, or other weapons when necessary, and in accordance with officer training and department policy, to remove the threat of violence by subduing criminals. However, this broad-based authority given to police to use force while apprehending criminals, utilizing both physical and psychological methods, to deter and reduce crime is based on policy that dictates what is considered “reasonable” force in any given situation and is often subjective to the instance when force is used. The use of excessive force is a violation of civil rights laws that are in place to protect citizens against arbitrary and negative action that deprives them of their liberty and life pursuits without the due processes of the law.
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.