As absurd as it sounds, some police officers do actually go out of their way to cause trouble with innocent members of the public who they are sworn to protect, rather than spending their time detecting real crime. Sometimes this may be due to factors such as racial profiling or a victim’s mere presence in a high crime area. There is also a culture in many departments where officers know they can pretty much get away with anything, including acts of violence and false arrests.
It is difficult to speculate as to why some officers engage in this kind of behavior, but needless to say it wastes taxpayer money through lost time, resources, and subsequent lawsuits. Police officers are held to professional standards of ethics and conduct like many other professions, but certain officers clearly do not take these obligations seriously.
Convenience store clerk beaten for no reason
An altercation in Chicago in 2012 resulted in an officer being criminally convicted by federal prosecutors for beating a store clerk without provocation or suspicion of criminal activity.
Chicago Police Officer Aldo Brown had entered a convenience store on the Southeast side of Chicago while on duty. Without any obvious indicators of probable cause to make an arrest, he began to immediately ask the clerk whether he had drugs or guns on him. The video surveillance from the store showed the officer handcuffing the clerk, punching him, and kicking him shortly after entering and questioning the victim. The clerk also did not appear to resist the officer or engage in any other behavior that would provoke an attack. Brown had stated that he allegedly saw a gun in the clerk’s pocket and needed to defend himself in order to justify his behavior.
After charges were brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a federal jury sentenced Brown to two years in prison for one count of excessive use of force at the conclusion of the trial.
How often does this happen and what can be done?
It is difficult to say how often these kinds of unnecessary attacks on innocent people occur, because many incidents of police brutality are either never reported, not formally investigated, or even covered up by the departments to protect their co-workers. Needless to say, the availability of recording on smartphones has resulted in an explosion of videos of police brutality appearing all over the internet. This would tend to indicate that police do routinely overstep their authority, and it is becoming more apparent with better ways of recording these interactions.
If the police have harassed or beaten someone due to profiling or any other improper accusations, it is best to get legal help and try to obtain any evidence of the interaction. The video surveillance in the store that showed the beating of the clerk was probably the only reason this officer was formally charged. As the incident above shows, some officers are held accountable by the criminal justice system when they clearly go beyond law enforcement protocols as long as there is hard evidence of misconduct. There is also the possibility of filing a civil lawsuit to be paid for injuries that result from police brutality.
Get help from a police brutality lawyer in Chicago
Dinizulu Law Group Ltd. has attorneys who specialize in filing lawsuits against the police. Their legal professionals can make a showing of excessive use of force when officers deviate from their standard protocols for arrest and detaining suspects.