Police brutality is often associated with the profiling of certain groups who have historically been targets of discrimination. Any kind of profiling that results in harm to the victim can become the subject of a civil lawsuit where the department is sued for monetary damages.

Northern California’s history of discrimination

Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat has reported on northern California’s history of violence and mistreatment against members of the LGBT community. The San Francisco Police Chief issued a formal apology for events that span several decades where gay or transgender individuals would be arrested or beaten for dubious reasons. Some events that were recounted included mass evictions of transgender people from a Compton cafeteria in 1966 and systematic beatings of gay men in the Castro district during the 1960s. There was also a policy of arresting transgender men for wearing dresses around this same time. The current police force in the area now includes members of the LGBT community, and they have spoken about working together to create a better future and improve relations between the public and the police.

Civil Rights and protected characteristics

Characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and religion are all protected by federal civil rights laws in the United States. The rationale behind these laws comes from our constitution which states that all people should be treated equally by the law and U.S. government regardless of any differences. Over the last several decades these civil rights laws have been used in various situations to combat discrimination.

Historically, there have been numerous instances of police mistreating groups due to these protected characteristics. That is why relevant civil rights legislation can be used as the grounds to sue police departments who engage in violence and unnecessary harassment against members of the public. These laws allow victims to collect sums of money relevant to the kind of injuries or mistreatment they have had to endure. As a general rule the more severe the police injure someone or deviate from their standard operating protocols, the larger the judgment against them will be.

Valid standards for arrests and detentions

Any arrest or detention of an individual needs to be supported by probable cause that a crime was committed. This means that police cannot arbitrarily detain or arrest people, or make up reasons to infringe upon someone’s freedom based on protected characteristics. In most current incidents of police brutality, a bystander or the victim will usually try to film the interaction from a cellphone camera to preserve evidence of the interaction. Many police departments around the country also now require officers to turn on body cameras while they are on duty, or film their actions from a dashboard camera placed in their vehicle. Video evidence is usually the most helpful if a lawsuit needs to be filed against the department for police brutality.

Get help following police brutality and discrimination

If you believe that the police in the Santa Rosa area have discriminated against you by using violence or falsely arresting you, there is help available. Contact the Law Offices of Erin Aaland for expert representation after an incident of police misconduct.

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