Police officers are responsible for upholding the law and protecting the people in the communities they serve, and it’s devastating when a police officer breaks this public trust and abuses that power. Civil rights activists have brought to light systematic injustices and abuses of power on the part of law enforcement. When police officers fail to act with integrity, they must be brought to justice. At Parker Waichman LLP, we’re here for those who have been victims of police brutality and excessive force. With the help of a police misconduct attorney from our firm, you can stand up for your legal rights.
Being victimized by an authority figure can be traumatizing, causing emotional, financial, and physical damage and injury. Pursuing litigation over police brutality allows victims and their families to seek justice and also protects other civilians who may fall prey to police misconduct.
If you or someone you know has experienced police misconduct, call Parker Waichman today for a free case review with a police brutality attorney.
Types of Police Misconduct
Misconduct that leads to a police lawsuit can take many different forms. The most prevalent example is the use of excessive force, or brutality. Police officers are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force as necessary to control a situation. If an officer exceeds what is deemed reasonable, they may be guilty of violating an individual’s civil rights. Excessive use of force may also cause serious injuries, including disability and death. Examples of police misconduct may include:
- Coercion or blackmail
- Excessive force
- False arrest or wrongful imprisonment
- Fatal shootings
- Illegal search and seizure
- Racial profiling
- Sexual assault
Weapons and Excessive Force
Some victims file a lawsuit against a police department because of harm caused through the use of a weapon, such as a Taser or a firearm. Rules governing the legal use of police firearms are dictated by each state. Typically, policies indicate that guns should only be used when a police officer or another person is in imminent danger or when someone suspected of a dangerous crime is fleeing and could pose an imminent danger to others if they escape. But there have been a number of cases in which a police officer used firearms in unwarranted situations, sometimes killing innocent civilians.
Excessive force may also consist of tasing. Many believe that Tasers are non-lethal, but that’s not necessarily the case. More than a thousand Americans have died after being shocked with Tasers and Amnesty International has spoken out against their overuse. If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to police tasing, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the police for excessive force.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Police misconduct may involve a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from illegal searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment provides that civilians cannot be searched without probable cause. If you believe your rights were violated, contact a police misconduct attorney.
Injuries and Deaths Caused by S.W.A.T. Team Search Warrants
In March 2017, The New York Times published an investigative report calling attention to the deaths and injuries that result when S.W.A.T. (“Special Weapons and Tactics”) team officers are used to execute search warrants. Most of the time, these tactical raids are conducted in search of drugs. “No-knock” warrants, as they are called, give police officers the right to force entry into a home to execute a search warrant without notice. The Times piece paints a terrifying picture of the raids: A team of fully armored police officers carrying an assortment of military-type weapons enter a home unannounced, ready for battle.
The investigation found that S.W.A.T. drug raids conducted from 2010 through 2016 resulted in the deaths of at least 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officers. Since for the most part, the government does not require reporting for S.W.A.T.-related fatalities, the true number of deaths is likely to be much higher. These aggressive drug raids have also resulted in numerous injuries as well as legal settlements that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Times investigation was sparked by a May 2014 case in which a S.W.A.T. team officer in Georgia mistakenly threw a flash-bang grenade into a toddler’s playpen, severely injuring him. The child needed more than a dozen surgeries and he and his siblings were traumatized by the event. The family received $3.6 million in settlements, much of which went toward the child’s medical bills.
According to the Times, these so-called “dynamic entries” prompted an average of 30 civil rights lawsuits each year from 2010 to 2015, and “many of the complaints depict terrifying scenes in which children, elderly residents, and people with disabilities are manhandled at gunpoint, unclothed adults are rousted from bed, and houses are ransacked without recompense or apology.”
In one of the most recent high-profile cases, Breonna Taylor, 26, was killed in March of 2020 in a no-knock raid while she was asleep in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment. In response, Louisville banned the use of no-knock warrants, and protests erupted demanding justice. Yet, the practice of using no-knock warrants continues across the country.
Raid-related injuries and deaths have led to legal settlements. The Times found that at least seven civil lawsuits had been settled for more than $1 million from 2012 to 2017. In one case, a $3.75 million settlement was awarded to the family of 68-year-old Massachusetts grandfather who was shot while lying on his stomach, unarmed and compliant. In another, a 26-year-old former Marine was shot more than 20 times during a drug raid. The police failed to find any drugs. His family received a $3.4 million settlement. In each of these cases, the officers involved were not charged.
What Should I Do if I Am a Victim of Police Brutality?
Cases of police brutality may be complicated because many victims are taken directly to jail after being abused, which may lead to further trauma. If you are free to act after being victimized, you should take the following steps to start seeking justice:
- Document the entire incident in detail. This includes taking photos of your injuries and any damage.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Health professionals will not only treat your injuries, but they will also document your injuries in your medical records.
- Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident.
- Contact a capable police brutality attorney.
If you find yourself in the hands of law enforcement after the misconduct, do your best to remain as calm as possible in order to protect yourself. Comply with requests made of you by law enforcement. Do not show any signs of non-compliance, as this could be used against you. Contact one of our attorneys as soon as you are able.
Our Experience With Police Misconduct and Brutality Lawsuits
Parker Waichman has secured monetary awards on behalf of clients who were:
- Assaulted by corrections officers at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility
- Assaulted by an EMS worker
- Thrown down a flight of stairs by a police officer
- Shot in the back by a police officer
- Shot at by a police officer while sitting on the steps outside his home with his child
We stood up for these victims’ rights, and we can help you, too.
Get Legal Help With
Your Police Misconduct Case
If you have been a victim of abuse at the hands of police, the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman can help. Call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out our online contact form today to get a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced police abuse lawyer. We’ll help you learn about your legal rights and options for seeking justice.