Review of a Police Misconduct Lawsuit and Civil Rights Violations
If you are a victim of police brutality, misconduct, or excessive force in the state of California, then you could file a lawsuit for civil rights violations.
This type of lawsuit seeks financial compensation for the victim and could potentially lead to criminal charges against the police officer.
If your civil rights were violated by a federal employee, then you could file a Bivens claim, which is a lawsuit for monetary damages and to recover compensation for losses.
Police misconduct can occur in many different ways, such as false arrest, excessive force, unnecessary use of force, unlawful detention, racial profiling, filing a false report, or perjury.
When law enforcement has violated your civil rights, then you may be able to recover monetary damages and you can also file an internal affairs complaint with the police department.
Put simply, you can fight for the compensation you may be entitled though the civil court process. When police misuse their authority with excessive force or misconduct, they could be held liable for any harm they caused.
If you sustained a serious injury due to police brutality, then you have the legal right to take legal action against them.
In a tragic situation where you have lost a family member in a police shooting, you may be able to file a lawsuit for wrongful death.
In the vast majority of cases where police use force against someone, their actions are justified as part of their official duties.
Thus, in order to seek legal action against police for excessive force or brutality, it must be proven their conduct was unreasonable or unnecessary.
For example, there are scenarios where police will use their stun gun on someone who was not resisting and who was not a threat to their safety. This could 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 criminal defense lawyers can help people who are victims of a civil rights violation or were injured due to police misconduct.
Types of Police Misconduct
Police misconduct is described as inappropriate or illegal conduct by law enforcement officers in their official capacity. In some cases, it's a civil rights violation under federal law or the United States Constitution.
Law enforcement officers include police officers, sheriffs, deputies, and federal agents such as the FBI and DEA.
When it comes to police misconduct cases, some people will seek legal action because they were wrongly arrested, assaulted by a police officer, or even prosecuted for a crime they didn't commit.
Some common examples of what type of behavior would fall under the umbrella of police misconduct or brutality include the following:
- Excessive force,
- Unnecessary force,
- Unjustified force,
- False arrest,
- Unreasonable search and seizure
- Sexual misconduct,
- Witness tampering,
- Property damage,
- Racial profiling,
- False imprisonment,
- Falsifying evidence,
- Filing a false police report.
Regardless of the type of misconduct that occurred, police departments and the city they work for are responsible for the behavior of their law enforcement officers.
Whether someone's constitutional rights were violated and legal action is warranted should first be discussed with an attorney with experience in this area of law.
What is Excessive Force?
Police officers sometimes use unreasonable excessive force to make an arrest which can be in violation of the victim's Fourth Amendment rights.
Law enforcement officers can use an amount of force that is necessary to make an arrest, which includes whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the officer and whether they were resisting arrest of attempting to flee.
In certain situations, a police officer who uses deadly force on someone can face criminal charges.
Police can only use deadly force when necessary and the court will closely review the both the behavior of suspect and police leading up to the incident.
In California, the use of chokeholds is now prohibited. When a police officer uses deadly force, it could be in violation of the suspects rights.
Pursuing Fair Compensation for Victims
It's not uncommon to see news reports of police misconduct, brutality or excessive force, which is of course illegal.
A police officer who uses physical intimidation and violence doesn't just violate departmental policy, but also the law.
Pursing a fair recovery in cases that involve law enforcement is often a challenge as it must be proven there was misconduct in the line of duty and the officer's behavior directly caused your injuries.
Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and steps protect yourself. The common compensatory damages include:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future wages,
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
If your civil rights were violated, then we can help you file a civil lawsuit under state or federal law, but there is a limit to make the claims.
In order to fight for the compensation that you might be owed, you need to take action promptly as there is a statute of limitations.
Civil Rights Against Police Brutality
It's illegal to deprive someone of their rights which are protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States while acting under color of law, defined under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you against illegal searches and seizures by law enforcement.
The First Amendment guarantees free speech and provides protection against retaliation for exercising this right.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits state and federal law enforcement officers from discriminating against someone based on color, race, religion, sex, or national origin.
These laws exist to protect citizens from police brutality and excessive force.
What Should I Do If I'm a Victim of Police Misconduct?
If your arrest and use of excessive force caused injuries, then you need to seek medical treatment, which police are required to provide.
If they fail to provide you adequate care, then the police can be held liable for negligence and deliberate harm caused by their inaction.
You need to also document what happened, which include the following information:
- names and badge numbers of the police officers,
- witness information who were at the scene,
- injuries you sustained with pictures,
- when you requested medical attention,
- how the incident has impacted your life?
Further, if available, video footage could be crucial to prove your case. In some cases, obtaining video evidence can be difficult without the assistance of a lawyer.
A lawyer could also help you serve a legal notice to relevant parties to prevent them from tampering with the evidence and they can help you file an internal affairs complaint with the police department.
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, victims of police misconduct can sue the offending officer and the police department they work for.
This allows victims to pursue monetary compensation for damages relating to their injuries.
Victims of misconduct victims can file a civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, which hold the responsible party liable for civil rights violations that occurred under the color of law.
There are many options available to victims of police misconduct, so you need to consult with an experienced attorney to understand the best path forward.
Police misconduct cases are normally complex and require legal representation with experience dealing with these type of cases.
Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles County and we offer a free case evaluation.