Evidence to support reasonable v. excessive force.
When a police brutality legal action is filed, the burden of proof will fall upon the individual filing the suit, the victim of the brutality. It is most important to document all evidence and actions occurring at the scene of a police action gone sideways. The 1989 U.S. Supreme Court Case of Graham v. Connor is the supporting “go to” case law regarding excessive force options for police officers. Police brutality actions involving excessive force can be a violation of civil rights, but force is necessary to keep communities safe in some circumstances and those actions by officers occur in split second decisions that could be the difference between life or death to someone. There must be a balance for ethical effective police presence in the community.
The Graham ruling recognizes that an officer may use that amount of force which is reasonable and necessary based on a balance test where an officer’s actions are “objectively reasonable” given the “totality of the circumstances.”
This means that the officer must consider what is often referred to as the “Graham Factors:”
- the severity of the crime at hand;
- immediate threat to officer, others or suspect based on criminal action;
- suspect is actively resisting arrest or fleeing the crime scene.
Settlement award based on video evidence in Jackson.
The Jackson police department recently settled another case of police brutality where the video made the case in Mississippi. When police actions are caught on video, it can be beneficial or impose negative perceptions in a community, because there is always more to the encounter than what someone can see. There are often factors that are not visible to viewers, but officers are aware of them, such as if a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and not able to respect commands, forcing the officer to subdue them so that they do not endanger themselves or others.
The Rodney King video had some form of objectionably reasonable force toward the actions leading up to the arrest heightening the danger to officers, and actions where force was no longer objectionably reasonable after the victim was subdued. The case at hand in the Mississippi ruling for the victim who received an award of damages that made him whole would not have been made if not for the video evidence that proved the use of force was not objectionably reasonable on any level. The attorney said the case rested on this piece of evidence.
Complaints for police misconduct including the most common types of police brutality 1) excessive force; 2) sexual harassment/misconduct; 3) illegal search and seizure activity; 4) bias-based profiling and 5) false arrest/wrongful imprisonment, should be made to the Jackson Police Department who will conduct a thorough investigation. Make sure to document all of the police actions leading up to the alleged police brutality and share that evidence with legal counsel to see if has value in supporting a claim for damages.
Seek Legal Counsel.
If you feel that you have a case against the Jackson Police Department because your civil rights were violated by the use of excessive force, you should immediately contact legal counsel at the Ballard Law Firm to evaluate a possible case against the officer who carried out actions of misconduct.
Ballard Law, PLLC, Attorney at Law
108 S President St.
Jackson, MS 39201