Excessive force is a newsworthy topic in the United States as allegations of police misuse of force have come under scrutiny because of the increased numbers of injuries and deaths during encounters with alleged criminals. An officer is allowed to use a certain amount of force in pursuit of the lawful objective of maintaining safety in communities, but they must mind the reasonableness of the force used by Supreme Court standards of the Graham v. Connor case utilizing the three tier approach to the need for force.
- The severity of the alleged crime being committed.
- The present and immediate danger to officer safety, public safety and alleged criminal.
- Active attempt to resist arrest or escape the crime scene.
According to the Professional Standards Unit, the Kennewick Police Department had 49 use of force incidents in 2018 and they were all resolved following the framework of the department policy. Law enforcement professionals are supposed to act in a reasonable fashion, but are forced to make split-second judgments during tense, fast moving encounters that have an uncertain outcome for all, and are dependent on uncertain escalation factors surrounding the criminal activity. Police brutality is an illegal and actionable offense that occurs when police overstep the boundaries of their “allowed use of force” in their roles as public servants hired to protect and serve their communities. Excessive force is when an officer uses more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death.
Common forms of actionable police brutality claims.
Police brutality actions come in different forms and sometimes a primary form can lead to the secondary form of the use of excessive force. The most common type of police brutality actions that you can make a formal complaint about are:
- Excessive Force – utilizing more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death; examples include the use of a taser or pepper spray, forceful beating, continuous beating after victim is subdued, choke holds, unlawful arrests, shooting unarmed victim and deadly force.
- Sexual Assault – if a police officer engages in sexual harassment or abuse, under the guise of their professional employment, it is a form of police brutality where legal action can be taken against that officer.
- 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.
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 First Amendment, Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution are often the supporting law for actions involving violations of civil rights.
Seek legal counsel.
If you feel that you might be a victim of excessive force, and you have sustained injury or other damages due to an alleged abuse by a police officer, contact Attorney Robert Jones to review your possible cause for legal action.
Robert Jones, Attorneys at Law
8350 W. Grandridge Blvd, Suite 200
Kennewick, WA 99336
Phone: (509) 557-3381
Email: [email protected]