There are a number of ways that encounters with the police can go wrong. Sometimes, officers attempt to apprehend someone due to an outstanding warrant or respond to a dispatch regarding a person engaged in criminal acts. However, this is not a perfect process and it is possible that they actually arrest the wrong person.
False arrest and imprisonment are actions which have historically had remedies through civil lawsuits.
Local man with cancer badly beaten by police
An incident in the Houston area involved a League City man being assaulted by police officers. The 32 year old man named Isaac Walton went to Galveston to relax near the ocean for the weekend. Police received a report of a man who was allegedly clothed and swimming in the nearby water, who appeared to be injured or badly beaten up. Walton had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer, and was not allowed to swim in his condition, so it was not likely that he would have been the subject of the call. Walton also had no prior criminal records. When police arrived at the scene, they approached Walton and the encounter escalated shortly afterwards. He was slammed into the ground and shot with a taser multiple times. These actions caused severe injuries to him in his already weakened state from chemotherapy. He now also has permanent blurred vision in his left eye.
Weeks after this problem, Walton was again contacted by local police during a traffic stop for an outstanding warrant based on him allegedly resisting arrest on that day. Walton’s lawyers argued that this was an ex-post facto attempt to legitimize inappropriate behavior. His attorneys would eventually end up filing federal lawsuits against four officers and the city of Galveston at the Southern District of Texas courthouse in Houston for aggravated assault and violations of Walton’s constitutional rights.
The problem of dealing with vague instructions
Police often receive dispatch calls that state the race and gender of a possible suspect without much other descriptive information. It is definitely possible for them to make errors, and police seem to want to find reasons to make an arrest once they have engaged with a potential suspect rather than consider issues of mistaken identity. In more extreme cases such as the one mentioned above, police may trump up false charges for misdemeanors such resisting arrest to justify their behavior.
Relevant laws about wrongful arrests
Because police do not have the legitimate authority to arrest someone other than the person who is suspected of criminal activity, an unlawful arrest is a violation of an innocent person’s constitutional rights. There are federal laws which allow individuals to sue police officers and their employer for any civil rights violations. The amounts paid out to victims may include money necessary for medical bills and hospital treatments, missed time from work, continuing care for permanent injuries or chronic conditions, as well as non-economic damages related to pain and suffering endured by a victim and their family.
How to file a lawsuit against the local police
If you have been falsely arrested or hurt by the police anywhere in the Houston metro area, there is legal help available. Reich & Binstock Attorneys at Law have been representing people who have sustained various kinds of injuries for over thirty years. Reich & Binstock have a dedicated team of legal professionals ready to help maximize any award of monetary damages paid out to you.