Review of Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law
The primary purpose of police officers is to protect and serve the public, not abuse their power. The use of lethal or deadly force is far too common when there were other alternatives.
When a Los Angeles Police Department officer, California Highway Patrol trooper, or other law enforcement agency officers cause serious injuries or death on someone, the criminal justice system doesn't always hold them liable.
However, you can fight for the compensation you deserve though the civil court process.
When police officers overstep their authority and use excessive force, they can be held accountable for any harm they caused.
If you suffered a serious personal injury because of police brutality, you have the legal right to take action.
If you lost a family member due to wrongful death caused by a police shooting, you can also hold the police held accountable.
Police use force against citizens daily and it's often justified. In order to pursue legal action against police for brutality or excessive force, it has to be proven the action taken was unreasonable or unnecessary.
For instance, there are situations where police have used their stun guns or batons on somebody who was simply questioning their actions, but were not a threat to the officers. This might be considered excessive force.
Put simply, if an injury or death occurs from law enforcement misconduct or overreaction, they can be held accountable for their behavior.
Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers help clients whose civil rights were violated by police and causes a serious injury or death. Let's review more information below.
Seeking Fair Compensation for Victims
It seems every day there is another headline involving police misconduct or brutality. As commonplace as this has become, it's important to remember that police brutality is, in fact, illegal.
Officers are trained to de-escalate stressful situations, not to use excessive force.
Too often, though, when tensions are high, officers turn to violence. Verbal and physical intimidation doesn't just violate policy – it violates the law.
Seeking a fair recovery in cases that involve law enforcement can be a challenge.
Not only must you prove that the police officer misbehaved in the line of duty, but you are also required to trace that misconduct directly to the injuries you sustained.
An experienced police brutality attorney can help you understand your rights and the steps you should take to protect yourself. The compensatory damages available under claim include:
- Medical cost,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future wages,
- Loss of a normal life,
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
When a victim's civil rights were violated, they could file a civil lawsuit under state or federal law, but there is a limit to make the claims.
Put simply, you need to act promptly secure your right to fight for the compensation you may be owed. Under the statute of limitations, a victim of police brutality has 2 years to file a civil rights lawsuit.
Types of Police Misconduct
When it comes to police misconduct, many people seek legal action because they've been wrongly arrested, assaulted by a police officer, or prosecuted for something they didn't do.
These are far from the only types of police misconduct, though. Here are a few other examples of police brutality or misconduct:
- Sexual misconduct,
- Witness tampering,
- Selective law enforcement
- Property damage,
- Mental injury,
- Intentional harassment,
- Unjustified force,
- Verbal assault,
- Racial profiling,
- False arrest,
- False imprisonment,
- Falsification of evidence,
Regardless of whether the injuries or death were the result of inadequate training or deliberate violence, police departments and the city that employs them are responsible for the behavior of their law enforcement officers.
Any instance when an officer's conduct violates an individual's constitutional rights may warrant legal action.
Before you take action, it's important to speak with an attorney to understand whether you have a viable claim.
Civil Rights Protecting Against Police Brutality
It is illegal for someone to deprive a person of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States while acting under color of law (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242).
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you against illegal searches and seizures by police.
The First Amendment guarantees free speech and provides protection against retaliation for doing so.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits state and federal law enforcement officials from discriminating based on color, race, religion, sex, or national origin.
These laws are in place to protect Americans from police brutality. They – along with other statutes – can help bolster your case.
What to Do if You Become a Victim of Police Brutality
If your arrest or the use of excessive force results in injuries, ask for medical attention. Police are required to get injured people the medical care they need.
Failure to provide adequate care is against the law, and officers may be held liable for deliberate harm caused by their inaction. Negligence may even lead to a court case.
In the days and weeks following an instance of police brutality, it's important to document your experience as thoroughly as possible. Some critical information to keep track of includes:
- The names and badges of police officers involved,
- The date, time, and location of the incident,
- List of potential witnesses at the scene,
- The injuries you sustained,
- Have someone take pictures on your injuries,
- You request for medical attention,
- How the police brutality incident has impacted your life?
If the incident occurred in public, video surveillance might have captured it on film. It can be difficult to gain access to this footage without the help of an attorney.
A lawyer can help you serve legal notice to relevant parties and prevent them from tampering with the evidence you hope to use in your case.
Legal counsel can also help you file an internal complaint with the police department in question.
Such complaints notify the department of the officer's behavior, leading to their suspension or termination. This route does not, however, result in any compensation for the victim.
Civil Lawsuits Versus Criminal Charges
In some cases, police officers may be the subject of criminal charges for their misconduct on the job.
Depending on the situation, prosecutors may file charges against the officer in question for theft, bribery, assault, manslaughter, and even murder.
Criminal charges are often the result of intense pressure from the public.
Too often, though, officers responsible for some of the worst instances of police brutality walk away without a mark on their records.
That's where civil suits come into play. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, victims of police misconduct may sue the offending officer and their department.
This allows victims to seek monetary compensation for damages relating to their injuries.
There are several options available to victims of police brutality, so it's important to consult with an experienced attorney to understand the best path forward.
How We Can Help You
We can help you gain a clear understanding of your rights and legal options if you are the victim of police misconduct or brutality.
We can also file a lawsuit against the police and city to recover damages you may have incurred during this time.
Police misconduct cases are often complex and require legal representation with experience dealing with these type of cases.
Police misconduct could result in the loss of your job and cause serious injuries. You have the legal right the take action for financial compensation.
Our personal injury lawyers serve clients in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.
We need to first review all the details in order to determine best options to recover maximum compensation.
Contact Injury Justice Law Firm for a free case evaluation at (818) 781-1570.