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About Police Excessive Force

This content about excessive force was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

Law enforcement officers can’t use excessive force while arresting a person, as it is an unlawful act that violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that:

“[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

An excessive force lawyer – or “civil rights lawyer” – generally takes the cases of people who were victims of this type of police misconduct if they have a viable lawsuit against the officer who violated their rights, or even against the municipality that employs them.

Excessive Use of Force

Generally, police officers are allowed to reasonable and necessary use force to make an arrest or if they need to defend themselves. To decide if an officer exceeded the necessary force to make an arrest, the jury considers what a reasonable person would have done under those circumstances if they had the officer’s knowledge.

When making an arrest, officers generally are allowed to use some force if the suspect is resisting (the amount of force permitted depends on the circumstances); deadly force is only permitted when the officer is facing an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or someone else.

When going after a fleeing suspect, the amount of force a police officer can use will depend on whether the person has committed a felony or a simple misdemeanor, among other factors. 

Providing Proof of Police Brutality

The burden of proof in civil cases usually falls on the plaintiff, having to prove liability by a “preponderance of the evidence” (meaning “more likely than not”). If the police officer – who in this case is the defendant – raises a defense of justification, they must prove there was a legal excuse for their behavior under the same standard as the victim. 

Lots of states treat excessive force use cases a little differently than typical lawsuits. There are jurisdictions where there is a presumption that the officer acted with the necessary level of force that the plaintiff must overcome.

While some things vary from state to state, all of them agree that the plaintiff being found guilty of the crime that the officer arrested them for is not a valid form of defense for the officer to have used excessive force. In turn, if the plaintiff is found innocent of the crime, chances are more likely to show the officer’s use of force was not justified.

Source

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content about excessive force was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.