Police officers often violate their use of force protocols when they attempt to make an arrest for a non-violent offense. Relevant procedures require little or no violence.

A Fort Collins Police Officer resigned after a video surfaced showing excessive use of force during an arrest for shoplifting.

Target shoplifter beaten by officer for several minutes

A woman was suspected of stealing several items from a target store and was initially detained by loss prevention staff. Later when the officer arrived, video cameras in the store captured him forcefully trying to subdue the suspect and hitting her for several minutes before and after she was handcuffed. The footage clearly shows that the suspect was hysterical during the entire incident, but did not appear to be using any physical force against the officer.

After an internal affairs investigation, the Fort Collins department was going to recommend that the officer be terminated, but he resigned before the decision was formally announced. The victim was charged with crimes related to resisting arrest and theft for the shoplifting incident.

How much force is required? 

During any arrest, use of force protocols are generally limited to a few specific categories that are supposed to be defensive rather than offensive. For most departments, these include officer safety and the threat of harm or bodily injury to others nearby. When a suspect is taken into custody for a non-violent crime and they are not armed, a certain amount of resistance may occur, but by law this does not give the police the right to start retaliating by hitting or beating the suspect. In a situation like the one above, it is also difficult to imagine how an unarmed woman could pose any kind of threat to a much larger male officer.

What is the best option for a victim of a police beating?

Even though the officer resigned it is still possible to file a civil lawsuit against the department. This is because the officer was employed by Fort Collins and acting under their authority as a government body when the incident occurred. While administrative punishments are sometimes handed down by the department that employed the officer, the victim will not be compensated and has no control over this process.

There are civil rights laws which allow any member of the public to file a lawsuit when a government employee takes advantage of their authority. These kinds of lawsuits will argue for damages that cover the person’s medical bills and other treatments, lost wages, emotional pain and suffering, and any other kinds of harm caused by the specific incident. It is also important to only retain an attorney that specializes in lawsuits against the police, as the local government will usually have experts available to testify about use of force issues and other tools available to make a strong defense.

Get help from a police brutality lawyer

Victims of police misconduct in the Fort Collins area have numerous options available after an incident. Contact The Law Offices of Dion J. Custis for more information about the possibility of filing a lawsuit.

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