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Police Misconduct and The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination and police misconduct against individuals based on disability. (42 USC. § 12131, et seq. and 29 USC. § 794). These laws protect all people with disabilities in the United States.

An individual is considered to have a “disability” if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

About Police Misconduct

These laws prohibit discriminatory treatment, including misconduct, based on disability in virtually all law enforcement services and activities.

These activities include, among others,

  • Arresting a person based on an unreasonable assumption that symptoms of the person’s disability are evidence of a crime
  • Failing to accommodate the person’s disability in law enforcement tactics, including uses of force

These laws apply to:

  • Any law enforcement activity
  • Addressing citizen complaints
  • Arresting, booking, and holding suspects
  • Jail conditions
  • Use of force, including deadly force.

These laws also prohibit retaliation for filing a complaint or participating in the investigation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“The ADA”)

The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in all State and local government programs, services, and activities regardless of whether they receive DOJ financial assistance; it also protects people from being discriminated against because of their association with a person with a disability.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 prohibits discrimination by State and local law enforcement agencies that receive financial assistance from federal government. Section 504 also prohibits discrimination in programs and activities conducted by Federal agencies, including law enforcement agencies.

What remedies are available under these laws?

Individuals have a private right of action under both the ADA and Section 504; you may file a private police misconduct lawsuit for violations of these statutes. There is no requirement that you exhaust your administrative remedies by filing a complaint with Department of Justice first.  If you think you may have such a claim, you should consult with an ADA attorney or Civil Rights Attorney.

If you were severely injured, or a loved one was killed or committed suicide, because of a police officer’s or correctional officer’s use of force or deliberate indifference to serious medical needs that are a disability, the lawyers at Haddad & Sherwin LLP may be able to help.

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.