On August 30, 2018, a Texas police officer by the name of Roy Oliver was convicted to 15 years in prison for killing an innocent and unarmed African-American teen. The case of ex-officer Roy Oliver is not entirely uncommon and there have been many cases in which police officers have been fined large sums of money or officers have lost their jobs and been forced to face jail time because of how they behaved while they were on duty.
There really is no cap on how long an officer can be sentenced to prison. The severity of their penalty depends on how serious their crime was and how many individuals were affected because of their actions. Naturally, the more pain and loss they caused, the longer they will be made to endure prison time.
Don’t police officers have immunity to lawsuits?
Police officers have something which is called qualified immunity when it comes to being sued. Qualified immunity protects civil servants such as police officers from being penalized legally by a suspect whom they confronted or arrested.
Naturally, when officers deal with criminals on a regular basis they end up making plenty of enemies and nearly all of these enemies would want to try and take a legal blow at the officer with false allegations. The main purpose of granting officers qualified immunity is so that they can be protected from these false allegations and they can carry out their duties to their full capacity without having to worry about being sued for their actions.
However, some officers take advantage of this protection and feel like they have the right to behave in any manner that they please. The good news is that just because officers have qualified immunity, it does not make them above the law. Qualified immunity is only applicable when an officer has not violated any basic rights of the person whom they had confronted or arrested. If the officer violated any constitutional or federal rights which are well established then they are definitely at fault.
If an officer harmed a person physically, broke their property, sexually abused them, or hurt them due to their race then they have definitely crossed the line with the law and even their qualified immunity cannot protect them from facing harsh penalties.
Who should I call for help?
If a person has had their basic rights violated by a police officer then they can file complaints to the chief of the police department in their Jurisdiction, or they can also file a complaint with the Department of Justice. Filing a complaint on one’s own can be tricky and that is why teaming up with a police brutality lawyer in McAllen, TX is one of the smartest moves a person can make when they are planning to take legal action against a police officer. Getting a professional to help one through the legalities, paperwork, and through understanding, all the laws can be a game changer in a court trial and can help give a person the boost they need to be compensated for their loss and pain.