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Fighting Back Against Police Brutality and Excessive Force

This content about Police Brutality 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.
  • In the wake of the protests following George Floyd’s death, more and more cases of police brutality and excessive force have started to emerge, many even being documented on video. These cases are part of a worrying epidemic across law enforcement agencies in the U.S. It is key to understand how police brutality and excessive force violate your constitutional rights and to know that you are entitled to pursue the matter in court against the offending officer.The constitutional right to be protected from excessive force is found in the protection against unreasonable search and seizure requirements of the Fourth Amendment. It is also found in the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits unusual and cruel punishment. However, determining what is considered as “excessive” or “unreasonable” in police brutality and excessive force cases is critical.

    Determining what excessive force is

    Police officers can only use as much force as reasonably necessary. The Supreme Court has held that even though officers have a right to use some degree of physical coercion during an arrest or stop, it must be proportional to the threat. Furthermore, to be considered reasonable, the use of force must cease when the need for said force ceases, i.e., the situation has de-escalated or the suspect has been successfully restrained. Essentially, this means that an officer can’t continue to use force on an individual that is no longer posing a threat.

    When courts try to objectively determine what is reasonable under the circumstances, they are guided by the “objective reasonableness” standard. This involves establishing whether an officer with similar experience and training would have acted in the same way when faced with a similar circumstance. In California, the officer’s actions preceding the use of force are also taken into account.

    Nonetheless, recent legislation in California has provided much stricter standards for the use of deadly force. This makes it easier to pursue a criminal case when an officer causes the death of an individual due to the use of excessive force, as this legislation provides that deadly force can only be used when necessary instead of when reasonable under the circumstances.

    How police brutality and excessive force cases are handled

    Los Angeles police brutality and excessive force cases are rampant. If you have had your constitutional rights violated, trust a specialized attorney to handle your case. These claims are usually handled as civil rights cases, and in some instances, criminal charges may be pursued against the officer. You also have the right to file a complaint with the police department and request that the court throw out any evidence found as a result of the misconduct.

    Filing a civil rights lawsuit may provide you the compensation you deserve for the injustice you have suffered. Make sure to contact someone who can provide you with top-notch legal advice; these cases are complex and require a professional who can give solid arguments on your behalf to the court, leaving no room for doubt as to whether your constitutional rights were violated.

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 Police Brutality 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.