Charlotte, NC – When a person has an interaction with a police officer and later feels that they engaged in some kind of unprofessional or illegal conduct, they can file a formal misconduct complaint. All police departments around the country have some kind of procedure in place for victims of this kind of misbehavior to file a formal statement and have their concerns addressed. The department is supposed to maintain an impartial internal affairs division that will investigate complaints and take appropriate action. However, there are some difficulties with enforcement and actually disciplining officers.

Common reasons for misconduct complaints

False arrests, sexual harassment, excessive use of force, inappropriate verbal statements, and other forms of unprofessional behavior are the most common reasons for complaints against police officers. This can happen while the victim is the subject of an active criminal investigation or under arrest, or police officers may choose to abuse their authority on innocent bystanders.

Procedures to file the complaint

The victim can contact the department and ask to go through the procedure to fill out documentation and provide evidence and facts related to the misconduct in question. This information is normally turned over to internal affairs. The officer in charge of the investigation may contact the victim for further information and they may speak with others who were at the scene. At the conclusion of their investigation, they are supposed to make recommendations for disciplinary action against the officer, or conclude that there is insufficient evidence to take any action. In most cases, victims are not notified about the results of the investigation. Internal affairs can also be problematic because departments will rarely want to take serious corrective steps such as termination or long term suspensions against their own officers. 

Lawsuits against the police

Because victims cannot always count on the department to take appropriate action, and there is no way to compensate a victim through the complaint process, a civil lawsuit is often necessary for serious incidents of misconduct. The person who was injured can file a lawsuit that says the officer illegally used their authority to violate their rights. They can also ask for damages or compensation for things like medical treatment, missed time from work and lost wages, and emotional pain and trauma caused by the incident. The department or city that is named as the defendant may choose to settle the case if the evidence of misconduct or police brutality is clear.  

Assistance from a local police brutality lawyer is a site that contains a listing of qualified lawyers in Charlotte and every other city in the country. Anyone who is considering a lawsuit or needs help with other legal issues can choose their state and a relevant practice area to find a local attorney.