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Police Brutality And Abuse Are Civil Rights Violations
Law enforcement officers have a sworn duty and obligation to protect the public and those with whom they interact. But what do you do when you’re harmed or injured at the hands of a police officer?
Lawsuits against police are more complicated due to something called “qualified immunity.” Law enforcement officers are given broader latitude to do their jobs without worrying about the threat of disciplinary actions or lawsuits. Therefore, an attorney must prove that the police officer’s actions exceeded reasonable bounds, causing your injuries and violating your civil rights.
Police brutality, as well as other overreach by municipal agencies at the state, federal, and local level, can be a violation of the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendments, depending on whether the victim is a pre-trial detainee or a convicted inmate. These kinds of cases are commonly called “1983 cases,” because of the federal statute that details denial of an individual’s civil rights under Federal law, 42 U.S.C. §1983. A “Section 1983” lawsuit can be filed against anyone employed by the state who denies an individual of their Constitutional Amendment rights. Section 1983 is the one most commonly used in lawsuits regarding police misconduct.
Unlike other types of lawsuits, police brutality cases are more difficult because of their qualified immunity. We are constantly reminded by stories in the news that the use of force often is not clear cut. An officer’s use of force may be shrouded in questions about whether the subject of police force did anything to merit the use of force. Law enforcement will often use these facts and their protection under qualified immunity to exonerate themselves in these cases. Therefore, as the plaintiff, you’ll be required to prove that law enforcement acted improperly to deny your civil rights. To do that, you’ll need to take immediate action to preserve critical evidence:
- Write down everything as soon as possible to avoid forgetting important details
- Save any damaged property (clothes, documents, etc.) and keep them in a safe place
- Take pictures of injuries and any other evidence available
- Get names, addresses and contact information of any witnesses
- Keep comprehensive notes on any updates on your case, as well as names, numbers, and titles of contacts and everyone you speak with regarding your case
Your attorneys will also request that the defendant(s) preserve all critical evidence, such as:
- All video and photos
- All documents related to the investigation of the incident
- All witness statements
- All handwritten notes
- All phone records
- All dispatch recording
- All policies and procedures related to the event
It is tragic if you suffer severe injury or damage at the hands of police brutality and abuse. Though these incidents are rare, they happen. When they do, it can be overwhelming and intensely emotional, but it is important to make it known when an officer has abused his or her authority. You have a constitutional right to hold law enforcement accountable by pursuing compensation for injuries suffered at the hands of law enforcement misconduct.
Common types of police brutality claims
- Civil Rights Violations – This occurs when you are deprived of your rights or civil liberties under the U.S., Missouri or Kansas Constitutions, or federal or state law.
- Excessive Force – Use of force continuum often defines the amount of force law enforcement should use in a given situation. Law enforcement should respond to a level of force appropriate for the situation at hand. Forceful law enforcement tactics do not always amount to police misconduct, but using excessive force does.
- Excessive Use of Pepper Spray – Excessive use of pepper spray or tear gas or use of these substances in an inappropriate situation may constitute excessive force.
- False Arrest – Police officers must have probable cause to believe the individual has committed a crime. If they arrest or detain you without proper authority, it can constitute a constitutional right violation.
- Sexual Abuse – According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 80,000 women and men a year get sexually abused in correctional facilities. Cases of officers using their authority to take sexual advantage of the people in their detention center can have severe and devastating consequences. In recent years, officer rapes of detainees have been reported in Kansas City jails.
- Unwarranted Use of a Taser – Tasers are commonly believed to be non-lethal weapons for use against unarmed victims. But when tasers are used in inappropriate situations or excessively, they can constitute excessive force. Sometimes even Taser-related deaths can occur.
Personal Injury And Wrongful Death
You may be entitled to compensation when you suffer injury or wrongful death of a family member because of police abuse. Unfortunately, many cases of law enforcement misconduct are never investigated or handled adequately by a skilled attorney. Though dealing with police brutality can be physically and emotionally draining, pursuing a claim for compensation may be the best way to ensure recovery for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Compensation from these actions can help secure your family’s financial future following your traumatic encounter with law enforcement.
If you suffered severe, permanent injuries or deadly injuries of a loved one as a result of police abuse or misconduct, you might have a right to compensation for your damages.
Police Brutality Lawsuits in Kansas City – Kansas City Police Misconduct Attorneys
If you are a victim of police brutality, resulting in severe physical injury or death of a loved one, your situation should be investigated immediately. When officers go beyond what is required to control a given situation, their actions can lead to devastating consequences.
If you have suffered personal injury or the wrongful death of a loved one due to the use of excessive force by law enforcement, our personal injury lawyers at Preuss | Foster Law are experienced in investigating and prosecuting these claims. Call today at (816) 307-2788.