Settlement amounts in Minnesota for police brutality claims have increased over the past ten years including at least 933 payouts equaling $60.8 Million dollars; in Saint Paul a man who was met with excessive force and an ordered K-9 attack received a settlement in the amount of $2 million dollars, representing one of the biggest payouts in St. Paul’s history.

Settlements are made for various types of misconduct including:

  1. Excessive force. Police who may have applied excessive physical force out of revenge, anger, frustration, or merely ignorance may be liable in both civil and criminal court. The physical force is generally more than necessary to subdue a criminal and may cause bodily harm or injury.
  2. Police dog bites. Police are not allowed to permit their dogs to bite or maul people unnecessarily
  3. Prison neglect. Inmates who are deprived of adequate medical care may be able to sue.
  4. False arrest. Police are allowed to detain suspects to ask questions, but for no longer than necessary. And police may go through with an arrest only if they have probable cause to believe the person committed a crime.
  5. Racial profiling. A person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, or age should play no part in how law enforcement investigates, apprehends, or treats criminal suspects.
  6. Sexual harassment. When a police officer offers unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demands for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by law enforcement in the course of their job.
  7. Wrongful search and seizure. Activities that do not protect from “unreasonable searches and seizures” notwithstanding probable cause enabling a search warrant.

If you feel that you or someone you know has been negatively affected by Police Brutality, they may have cause to file an action with the court and should seek knowledgeable legal counsel. A victim may try to recover compensation for police misconduct by filing a civil lawsuit against the individual officer(s) and/or the entire police agency:

  1. Civil tort claims. A tort is a wrongdoing that one person commits against another that does not carry prison time as punishment.
  2. Constitutional claims. The United States Constitution outlines fundamental rights American citizens share that may not be compromised.  Many misconduct cases reveal violations of the Fourth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment and Section 1983 of the United States Code.

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.  The Fourth Amendment does not guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law.

The Eighth Amendment protects citizens from excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.  This amendment prohibits the federal government from imposing unduly harsh penalties on criminal defendants, either as the price for obtaining pretrial release or as punishment for crime after conviction.

Section 1983 of the United States Code offers victims a way to sue people who have seriously harmed them while acting under the “color of state law.” In order to prevail on a Section 1983 claim, the victim has to show all of the following: 1) victim’s constitutional rights was violated; 2) the violation was caused by someone acting under color of law (such as a police officer), and 3) the state agent who committed the violation was not immune from liability.

When police officers or agencies are found liable under tort or constitutional police misconduct claims, the court may order them to pay compensatory damages to the victim to help make up for the harm they suffered. If you need the services of legal counsel to decide if you have a valid claim against the Saint Paul Police Department, you should hire legal counsel in Minnesota.

Sources:

https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/what-does-0

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript

http://www.startribune.com/man-kicked-by-police-and-bitten-by-k-9-settles-with-st-paul-for-2m/417237563/

http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-cities-counties-paid-60-8m-in-police-misconduct-claims-in-past-decade/479781413/