If you have had an encounter with police and you believe that you experienced excessive force, you may be having difficulty confirming that your rights were violated and determining what to do next. In order to understand how law enforcement can properly or improperly engage with you, you must first be sure that you are aware of your rights.
Understanding Police Excessive Force
Excessive force by police occurs when a law enforcement officer engages with you in a manner that is unnecessarily aggressive for the situation. This can be a subjective idea, but the officer is required to diffuse the situation with the minimum amount of force required and no more. If you were treated with aggression in excess of what the situation called for, you may have been a victim of excessive force by police.
Law enforcement officers do not need to physically harm you in order to be liable for excessive force charges. If you were verbally threatened or intimidated, coerced into giving a confession, or lied to, your rights have been violated. An officer must resolve each situation using the most passive option available; typically, this begins with his or her mere presence and basic conversation. If this does not work, allowable force may proceed to verbal commands and open-handed physical engagement if necessary. These methods must be tried first before weapons such as tasers and batons may be used. Deadly force is never permitted unless an individual is escaping and a substantial threat to the officers or the general public.
Steps to Take If You’ve Experienced Police Excessive Force
If you believe that you have been a victim of excessive force by a law enforcement officer, you will need to take a number of steps. Be sure to act quickly after the incident; your case will be most effective and have the best chance of a positive outcome if you follow up immediately after the encounter occurs.
Gather All Information
The first step to take after experiencing police excessive force is to document everything that you can. This may include text or phone conversations, as well as photos or other evidence that may prove useful like car dents, damaged clothes, or injuries. It is also wise to write down everything that you remember as soon after the incident as reasonable so that you can preserve as many details as possible.
File a Civil Rights Complaint
After you have compiled your documentation, be sure to file a civil rights complaint. Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 grants you rights during your engagements with law enforcement officers, and if you were a victim of excessive force, you may have recourse. This step is best undertaken with a legal expert who can represent you.
Take Action in Protecting Your Rights
In addition to the information laid out in the Civil Rights Act, you have other rights that may have been infringed. The Fourth Amendment grants you protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the 14th Amendment provides you with due process under the law. However, your rights extend beyond the Constitution and its amendments; many precincts also require that officers wear body cams or use dash cams. If you were not permitted to record the encounter using your smartphone or another recording device, your rights have been compromised.
How Can an Attorney Help?
As you consider your next steps after experiencing excessive force by police, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of creating a compelling case. This is best left to a skilled attorney, which is why you should not hesitate to reach out to legal counsel as soon as possible after your encounter with law enforcement. An attorney is uniquely positioned to advocate on your behalf and create a detailed and thorough case for you.
Reach Out to Our Police Brutality Attorney
If you need assistance after an encounter with police left you victimized by excessive force, reach out to an experienced police excessive force attorney who can fight for you. The Brown Firm would be happy to represent you and offer guidance about what to do after your rights have been violated during a police interaction.
Reach out to schedule a consultation to speak with an experienced attorney who can advocate on your behalf. We are available to sit down with you and discuss your individual situation, helping you to develop a strategy going forward so that the officers responsible can be held accountable and you can receive the damages that you deserve. A civil rights attorney will help you compile your evidence so that you can worry less about your encounter with police and more about how to move on and recover after this incident.