Police are given the authority make legitimate arrests for possession of illegal drugs. However, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense, and as the country begins to legalize the drug in many states, police officers are now authorized to give someone a citation without arresting them. A drug offense alone should not require the use of force by police to make an arrest.
In practice, most cases for marijuana possession now are resolved with the defendant paying a small fine and court costs. Despite the fact that political tides are now changing to recognize marijuana related offenses as relatively unimportant crimes, some police officers are still using these charges as a pretext to injure people. The Baton Rouge police detained injured a man who they alleged was holding a blunt.
Drug possession results in lengthy detention and beating
The incident began when the police pulled up to the victim’s apartment in a vehicle and accused him of holding a blunt filled with Marijuana. The victim insists that he did not have any such item in his possession. As a background matter, Baton Rouge had also recently passed an ordinance that allows police to give citations for marijuana possession cases without either making an arrest or detaining a suspect.
The version of the encounter that was recorded in police reports states that at some point after this initial contact, the argument between the police and victim caused a chase. The victim tried to get away on a motorcycle, then by running. The officers claim that when they finally caught up to him, they had to use force to restrain him and also deployed their tasers. The Baton Rouge Police claim that they also found a gun in his possession during the search after his arrest.
The victim’s own version of the story is very different. He claims that they approached him and starting making accusations right away. He also states that the situation escalated into him being detained and beaten so quickly that he never had a chance to flee or resist. Neighbors nearby were able to record most of the events after the victim was detained. He was tasered, hit with pepper spray, and dealt several blows to his head. Much of this violence occurred when the victim was already detained and on the ground. The video clearly shows two officers pinning him to the ground while they throw occasional punches to his head over the course of several minutes. When other backup officers arrive on the scene, the violence finally appears to end.
After the incident, a spokesperson from the Baton Rouge Police stated that the officers’ body camera footage clearly showed the victim resisting and exonerated them of any wrongdoing, but this footage was never released.
Are the police allowed to do this?
Generally, the police do not need to use force to make an arrest or issue a citation for minor drug offenses. They may have been justified in defending themselves if the victim was armed, but it would be necessary to obtain more footage to determine if this accusation is true or if it was merely made up to account for their behavior. The fact that there is video evidence available is very helpful, as it shows the police clearly throwing punches long after the victim was detained and posed no threat of violence. Situations such as this are obviously grounds for excessive use of force.
Punches or hits dealt to people who are already handcuffed can cause serious damage. Any injuries that result from these kinds of actions can be factored into an excessive use of force lawsuit. When the police go beyond the scope of their duties by beating someone during an arrest, a lawsuit can argue for damages related to factors such as missed time from work, hospital bills, medications, and non-economic forms of pain and suffering caused by their injuries. A police brutality lawyer can give more specific information about how these laws work and the value of injuries caused by the police.
Get help from an attorney today
If you have been injured by the police during an arrest in Baton Rouge or any other parts of Louisiana, police brutality lawyers are ready to speak with you. Miller, Hampton, and Hilgendorf have been helping people in the state with lawsuits related to all kinds of injuries.