The U.S. is experiencing a revolutionary moment in history. Many social and political matters are being fervently discussed and protested, and one of the central factors that continues to fuel the flames is the excessive force frequently used by police.
Thousands of people are brutalized by police officers each year. This year, 765 lives have already been taken by those who have sworn to “protect and serve.” If you have recently become the victim of police brutality, it is very important to know that you have the grounds to file a lawsuit against the officer or police department. Here’s what you need to know about filing your claim.
What Counts as Police Brutality?
Police officers must often employ forceful techniques to subdue criminals and secure them into custody. This does not always become an issue of excessive force, however. Often, those under arrest are fighting back, giving the officer no choice but to engage in a highly physical manner. Yet, these moments are easily distinguished from those in which police officers use unnecessary violence against unarmed civilians, especially those who are not fighting back or protesting the officer in any way.
In these moments, it is clear that the officer is guilty of police brutality. Not only are they using excessive, unnecessary force, but they are actively violating the civilian of their civil rights. Often in these altercations, there are underlying prejudices that exacerbate the behavior, namely racism, and sexism. Police brutality most commonly unfolds in the following ways:
- Physical assault
- False charges and arrest
- Racist or sexist harassment (racial profiling falls under this category as well)
- Sexual assault
- Unwarranted searches
There are many forms of police misconduct that result in unfettered violence against the civilians they are meant to protect. When a police officer behaves this way, they are breaking the law. Thus, you have the right to file a claim against the individual who attacked or otherwise harmed you.
What to Know About Filing a Claim for Police Brutality
Suing a police officer is quite a challenge. This is primarily because they are protected by “qualified immunity.” This legal protection is intended to shield the officer when they are forced to employ highly physical tactics to subdue a criminal for arrest. Unfortunately, many officers have abused this defense. Significantly few policemen have been brought to justice because of qualified immunity, and with the added protection of municipal, state, or federal lawyers, these cases are tough to resolve.
Yet, with a police brutality lawyer, you can be sure that your assailant will be held accountable. After the incident, collect all the following information of the scene and the officer:
- The officer’s badge number and department that employs them
- Collect the same information of any officers that witnessed the event
- Contact information of any witnesses
- Photos and videos of the scene
- Date and time of the incident
- Location of the incident
With this documentation, your lawyer will help you prove that the officer used excessive force against you since, as the victim, the burden of proof falls upon you. Further, they can obtain bodycam or dashcam footage, for example, to illustrate in real-time how you were treated in custody. To get your police brutality claim underway, consult with an experienced lawyer today.