The role of a police officer is to protect and serve the community in which they work for. Sometimes, this means they must pull drivers over who have violated one or more traffic laws or even apply a use of force when they encounter a noncompliant suspect who they believe has committed a crime. While individuals rely heavily on their police officers to rid their communities of crime and mischief, there are occasions when officers go above and beyond their call of duty and abuse the rights and power they hold. Some officers become physically abusive to those they believe are guilty of engaging in criminal activity which has led to innocent people suffering injuries and even being killed. Other officers use their words to violate and harass subjects they presume to be guilty or unwilling to comply with their demands.
While there are certain circumstances that require a police officer to raise their voice or get physical with a person, there are other times when this type of behavior is simply not called for. The National Public Radio (NPR) released footage of a routine traffic stop that turned sour after an officer pulled a 65-year-old woman out of her vehicle and proceeded to yell at her telling her to “shut up.” Officer Michael Swerdlove initiated the traffic stop after he claimed Rose Campbell “turned too sharply at an intersection, encroaching on his lane as two rows of cars turned left.”
After Swerdlove pulled Campbell over and approached her vehicle, he explained that she would be receiving a citation, although she was not in agreement that she had “drifted from her lane.” Because Campbell felt she had not violated the law, she refused to sign the citation but did ask for the officer to contact the on-duty supervisor and have him/her come out. Things quickly escalated and eventually, Swerdlove ordered Campbell to get out of her vehicle although she did not comply. He then stated that Campbell was under arrest and needed to step out of her vehicle. After minutes passed, more officers arrived at the scene and that’s when Officer James Legg screamed, “Hey! You’re not in charge,” and proceeded to use obscene language toward the elderly woman.
Legg was even caught on the dash cam footage yanking at the woman and she can be heard screaming in the background. After the dash cam footage was released, the Alpharetta Public Safety Chief later issued a statement regarding the footage saying that Legg’s “actions simply do not represent who we are as an organization.”
Officer Legg was suspended, and an internal investigation was opened.
Unfortunately, not all departments handle situations like this in the same way and many cases of police brutality and misconduct go unaddressed. It is for that reason that victims of this sort of misconduct, whether it is physical or verbal, contact an Atlanta, GA police brutality lawyer who can help them seek justice for the unfortunate mistreatment they have had to endure. The fact is, just because an officer of the law can issue you a citation at their discretion or randomly approach you and ask you questions when they have reasonable suspicion to believe you committed a crime doesn’t mean they are allowed to violate your constitutional rights.
Therefore, if you are a victim of police brutality and would like a lawyer to assist you with taking action against the officer and/or the department, contact USAttorneys.com to get connected with an attorney in Atlanta. Not only can a lawyer explain your rights, but also explain the options you have in terms of how you want to address the situation.