Police brutality is a national problem for Americans, and every major city has had to deal with officers who overstep their authority on certain occasions. Omaha Nebraska was the scene of a beating that gained national attention, and the incident also demonstrates how victims can receive compensation related to their injuries and suffering.
Robert Wagner’s vicious beating
One of the most renowned cases of police brutality in the city of Omaha’s history involved the beating of Robert Wagner at Creighton University Medical Center in May of 2011. Wagner filed an excessive use of force case after he was struck multiple times by the police during his arrest. The lawsuit mainly alleged that the Omaha Police Department had not properly trained its officers to deal with suspects. A crucial piece of evidence was the video of the incident, which was captured by hospital surveillance. The recording shows several officers surrounding the victim and hitting him while he is already handcuffed and on the ground. None of the police present appeared to intervene to stop the beating from escalating or otherwise protect the victim.
The City of Omaha was also joined as a party to the lawsuit based on the officers’ conduct. They eventually reached a $100,000 tentative settlement. The Deputy City Attorney also mentioned the possibility of greater losses at trial as part of the reasoning behind the deal.
What factors contributed to the size of his settlement?
In an incident such as this, it is impossible to know exactly what was discussed by the lawyers before reaching an agreement. However, there a number of general factors that may have contributed to the size of the settlement. In all police brutality incidents, these factors are the quality of the evidence against the officers, the amount of publicity the case receives, the resulting injuries to the victim, and how far the police deviated from their standard procedures when they injured someone. Like most other civil lawsuits, police brutality cases attempt to show that a lapse in judgment or inappropriate conduct caused injury to another person. The monetary amounts paid out are usually related to the severity of the resulting injuries. Settlement agreements are also a protective measure. They can be a way for a city or police department to avoid the risk of a jury coming back with a verdict for millions of dollars worth of damages after a trial.
The most important factor in the Wagner beating was that there was clear video evidence of police misbehavior. Also, the publicity the incident received will make the department more likely to settle as form of public relations management. Excessive force issues tend to cause turbulence between the local population and law enforcement while the cases are still pending. The quality of the actions captured on video is also important, because it tends to show a reckless disregard for ethical and proper behavior by professionals who are a part of the criminal justice system. This incident looked like a gang beating rather than a detention as part of the legal process.
In other situations, police beatings are so severe that victim receives permanent injuries. This can cause a reduction in a person’s ability to work or function normally. After beatings that result in serious injuries, lawyers who sue police departments can intervene on the victim’s behalf. They know how to make the right arguments for larger sums of money based on the gravity of the injuries.
Lawyers who specialize in police brutality cases can help
If you have been injured by a police officer in Omaha or nearby areas in Nebraska, there is legal help available. An expert attorney from Rensch & Rensch will have a plan of action for your case after a brief conversation. Depending on the specifics of your injuries and the level of misbehavior involved, settlements or verdicts can be substantial.