New York City has an unsettling history of police brutality in past years leaving individuals beaten, sexually assaulted, killed by gunfire, left to die of natural causes exacerbated by false arrest, among other scenarios. The past claims of brutality have cost lives, fractured families and communities of both police officers and the citizens that were brutalized, leading to new policies designed to measure use of force incidents and encounters, and wearing of body cams to decrease margins of error when excessive force is warranted, and when situations reveal a case of police brutality. These policies were instituted with the hopes of rebuilding trust between communities and law enforcement agencies.
Police officers allowed “use of force” including hands, batons, tasers, or other weapons when necessary, and in accordance with officer training and department policy, is among the many misinterpreted powers placed upon government employees, and a topic prevalent in our daily news. The broad-based authority given to police to use force while apprehending criminals, utilizing both physical and psychological methods, to deter and reduce crime is based on policy that dictates what is considered “reasonable” force in any given situation and is often difficult to clarify and measure. Fifty-six people have been shot and killed by police officers in 2019 in the United States in the first month of the year, none of them were killed in New York City but that does not mean that New York City is without problems with new body cam video reports revealing excessive force.
Guidelines in New York City where police are accountable to act under often tense and volatile situations, to maintain actions of a “reasonable person” while apprehending a criminal who may likely not be acting reasonably, have been instituted to monitor use of force incidents and encounters. Officers must perform their duties under intense hazardous conditions with all eyes upon them leaving no margin for error in judgment as they strive to preserve peace as the end goal to their mission. The determination of the appropriate level of reasonable action is often measured by the civilian interpretation and not the officer’s interpretation. This begs the question of, “When does “use of force” as part of the job description for preserving peace and maintaining a safe environment for most persons switch gears into full out police brutality to individuals carrying out an illegal activity?”
Excessive force is the term described as using continued force even after a criminal has been subdued, and has been justified in high intensity situations where the potential for serious bodily harm, mass bodily harm, and death were present. Policy brutality occurs when officers overstep their prescribed duties in accordance with training and policy and act alternately to cause physical harm through beating, taser use or firearms. Situations may require the use of force, but excessive force may cause serious injury, and sometimes death as seen in many cases across the United States. Excessive force is not the only violation of police brutality: other actions include false arrest and wrongful imprisonment; wrongful search and seizure activity; sexual harassment; racial and gender discrimination; and general abuse against civilians. Policy brutality is an illegal and actionable offense to be remedied by affected persons when misguided police officers overstep the boundaries of their “allowed use of force” as defined by individual State and local policy based in part upon the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
If you feel you have been compromised by police brutality through:
- Excessive Force – utilizing more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death.
- False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment – unlawful restraint of a person’s freedom of movement by another acting in perceived accordance with the law.
- Wrongful Search and Seizure Activity – individual rights not protected from “unreasonable searches and seizures” notwithstanding probable cause enabling a search warrant.
- Racial and Gender Discrimination – bias-based policing is the intentional practice by an individual law enforcement officer who incorporates prejudicial judgments based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, or age that are inappropriately applied in the performance of his/her duties.
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.