Sometimes it feels that we live in very scary times. Many people are raised to believe they can trust the police and not fear them. With the advent of cell phone video technology police misconduct is not longer something that happens in the shadows. It is out in the open. You only need to go to Google or YouTube to see multiple videos of police behaving badly.
You do not have to have been part of a high profile case to have been the victim of police misconduct. Despite what some police officers believe, law enforcement officers are not above the law. There are rules and regulations they need to follow to, among other things, protect the constitutional rights of the people they detain.
If you feel you have been the victim of police misconduct, there are things you can and should do. You should definitely consult a police misconduct attorney or, if your situation warrants it, a police brutality attorney. They can go through your experience and let you know if they think it rises to the level of actionable police misconduct.
Learn what police misconduct is. This is a term that can include a lot of actions. Basically, when a law enforcement officer violates a person’s civil rights and/or abuses their authority, that is police misconduct. There are instances where this is intentional but there are far more when it is a result of negligence. Police officers are human, they make mistakes and some do sloppy work. Some are lazy. None of that means your rights should be violated.
There are things you can do if you were the victim of police misconduct. You can start with the police department involved in the police misconduct. You should be able to file a complaint against the individual officers or the entire police department. If you feel you are not getting anywhere that way, you can write a report and submit that to the internal affairs department. You can expect the police department and the internal affairs department to investigate your allegations. The main drawback for you is that you will receive no compensation in these instances regardless of what the investigations reveal.
If you are looking to both punish the officer or officers involved and be compensated for the ordeal you suffered, you need to sue the police department and will need to seek out the help of a civil rights attorney. If you situation warrants it, you can also talk to a excessive force attorney.
You can bolster your case. If you have not done so already, write down everything that happened to you. The sooner after the incident you do this, the better. No matter how great your memory is, the details of the incident will fade with time. Regardless of if there was an arrest, you should write everything down. If you were arrested, you should get the arrest report and any other paperwork the police compiled in your case. If you do not have it, you should try to get as much information about the officer or officers involved as you can. You want their names, badge numbers, precincts, car numbers and any other information you can put together.
Are there photos or videos of the incident available? Did anyone witness what happened to you? If you were able to capture the incident on video, that is great. The good news is that even if you were not able to document it with video yourself, someone else around you may have. If you have injuries, take pictures of them. Bruises fade the same way memories do.
When it comes to civil lawsuits, most are settled out of court. More than 96% of personal injury cases are settled out of court. If you sue a police department, if you have enough evidence, your police misconduct attorney may be able to have it all settled the same way.
Few things can make you feel more disempowered than being the victim of police misconduct. This is one of the reasons it is so important that you sue if it happens to you. This can prevent it from happening to someone else.