We turn to police officers when we want to feel protected from harm, but what happens when a police officer is the one causing you to feel unsafe?
Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, and countless others who have lost their lives because of a police officer have become household names and symbols for what’s wrong with the law enforcement community in our country today. These controversial attacks, along with the numerous other incidents we hear about every day, have put law enforcement officers and their actions under heightened scrutiny by the public at large.
There’s no getting around it: police brutality is a problem in our country, and the only solution is to hold police officers accountable for their actions. If you have been a victim of any of these four common types of police brutality – or any police brutality for that matter – reach out to an experienced New York criminal defense attorney to protect your rights as a United States citizen and fight for the justice that you deserve.
Excessive force/brutality. Law enforcement officers are permitted to use necessary force when it’s required to carry out their duties, but they are not permitted to use excessive force. The problem with “necessary force” is that there isn’t a universal definition for what qualifies or doesn’t qualify.
No two situations are alike, just as no two police officers are alike. For this reason, officers receive guidance and training on how to assess and gain control of a situation to protect the community without going overboard.
If an officer has control of a situation, though, or is not in any danger, any use of force at that point should be seen as excessive. Examples of excessive force include shooting an unarmed person, beating an already subdued suspect, and unnecessary use of pepper spray or a taser, among others.
Racial profiling. While the number of New York police officers conducting stop and frisk searches has gone down, they still occur on our streets. Most of the time, when a person is stopped and frisked, they are let go because no evidence of wrongdoing is found – but why was the person stopped in the first place?
Racial profiling – specifically when it comes to African-American and Latinos – is the main reason why people are stopped on New York streets, and it is an ineffective tactic to deter or discover crime. So if you are stopped because of your race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin, you are a victim of police brutality.
False arrest. A false arrest – an arrest made without a warrant or probable cause – can qualify as police brutality in certain situations. If you are detained or questioned by an officer without reasonable suspicion, your civil rights have been violated.
Wrongful death in police custody. If a loved one is detained by a police officer and the officer acts negligently, which results in your loved one’s death, then you might be able to recover damages. For example, if a suspect has a health condition that police officers are aware of and they fail to administer the necessary medications and the suspect dies as a result, then the suspect’s family can sue for wrongful death.
Filing a Police Brutality Claim
Here in New York, you only have 90 days from the date of the incident to file a police brutality claim. That’s why it’s important to act quickly to retain a qualified attorney who can help you investigate your case and seek justice.
If you have been the victim of police brutality or misconduct you can file a claim online, in person, or by phone or mail with the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). The CCRB is an independent agency that is “empowered to receive, investigate, mediate, hear, make findings, and recommend action on complaints against New York City police officers alleging the use of excessive or unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or the use of offensive language.”
When you file a complaint with the CCRB, your claim will be impartially investigated, and if misconduct is found, the officer will most likely be disciplined. You might also be able to mediate your claim with the officer directly and change his or her future conduct.
Most importantly, when you file a claim, you are creating a permanent record that will be on that officer’s personnel history. So if another claim is filed against that same officer, your claim will help establish a pattern of behavior.
Police brutality is currently in the spotlight in our country. If you’ve been the victim of improper police action, fight back for what’s right and get the justice you deserve.