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Understanding Excessive Use of Force in California

This content about Excessive Use of 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.

While police officers and other law enforcement are expected to never use excessive use of force in some of their duties, unless it’s in order to de-escalate situations and preserve their own and others’ lives and integrity, they often incur in misconduct when that force is undue and thus harmful to a civilian.

Maybe you or someone close to you has been through police brutality, so you need basic information on how to proceed.

California’s New Regulation on Excessive Force

In August 2019, the state of California changed the regulations on excessive use of force, justifying it only when deemed necessary, not reasonable, as it had been previously established.

The boundaries of what is considered “necessary” are strictly linked to the preservation of the officer’s life or another’s life, especially in front of a fleeing subject that can be dangerous. Further information on the actions of both the officer and the suspect prior to the incident must also be looked into in court to ensure just examination of facts.

When the Line is Drawn

If the action that a law enforcement officer takes includes physical, psychological or verbal abuse, is malicious and exceeds the situation (i.e. is unnecessary for the seriousness of the threat that the suspect may pose), we are in front of a possible case of excessive use of force or police brutality.

Property damage and negligence (like being left with no medical attention) are other instances of excessive use of force. This conduct is susceptible of being brought to a civil lawsuit by a citizen who was arrested.

When to File for Excessive Use of Force

From the moment of the offense, a citizen who was affected by police brutality (plaintiff) has two years as a statute of limitations to file for a federal lawsuit. Also, they have six months to file for a state law claim. The officer at fault (defendant) is held liable according to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which talks about the violation of a civilian’s rights “under color of law,” and the constitution, as described in the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable seizures. The county where the officer at fault is employed can also be held liable.

What to Prove and Aspire in this type of case

As for the burden of proof that the plaintiff and the defendant must meet, excessive use of force cases have “preponderance of the evidence,” and each respectively should include evidence that their conduct was not threatening and that the force applied to de-escalate the situation was reasonable and completely justifiable. The plaintiff can obtain money damages for police misconduct, as well as an injunction, which would dissuade further abuse of force in the future. Criminal charges against the offending officer can also be brought depending on the seriousness of the situation.

Find Out if You Have an Excessive Use of Force Case

Taking legal action can make your civil rights prevail and, on a larger scale, contribute to a culture of discouraging police brutality. If you need guidance about a situation where police enforcement abused your civil rights in any way, you should find experienced attorneys in the field of civil rights and excessive force cases. You might get the help you need to successfully claim your rights.

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 Use of 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.