Facts About Police Brutality
Police brutality is an injustice that has sparked new interest and outrage in recent years due to several high-profile incidents, including the death of George Floyd in 2020. Police brutality is often fueled by racism, biases, discrimination, poor training and lax management in law enforcement. It can lead to serious injuries, emotional trauma and death for brutalized victims. If you or a loved one experienced police brutality in Walnut Creek or elsewhere in California, contact a police brutality attorney at Milanfar Law Firm, PC for assistance right away.
What Is Police Brutality?
Police brutality refers to a law enforcement officer exhibiting excessive use of force or violence in the course and scope of employment. Police officers are granted the legal authority to use force – including deadly force – when doing their jobs and detaining suspects. However, they may only do so when necessary. The level of force used must be reasonable and appropriate for the circumstances. Acting in a way that is discriminatory, excessively violent or harasses an individual is the crime of police brutality.
How Common Is Police Brutality?
Police brutality is widely underreported, leading to statistics that most likely underrepresent the true numbers of people injured and killed unjustly by the police each year. According to the 2021 Police Violence Report, 1,136 people were killed by law enforcement officers in 2021 – more than almost any other year in recent history. Police shootings accounted for 97 percent of these deaths. Police officers were charged with crimes in only 12 of these cases.
Examples of Police Brutality
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that “each man’s home is his castle.” All U.S. citizens have the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government. This amendment also protects citizens against arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force, and discrimination and harassment. Under this constitutional right and the laws put in place to enforce it, law enforcement officers must obey specific guidelines when making an arrest. A police officer cannot:
- Discriminate against someone based on his or her color, race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
- Harass someone based on a protected class, such as making a stop with no probable cause.
- Verbally or emotionally abuse a suspect.
- Use an unnecessary or excessive amount of force for a situation.
- Employ the deadly use of force without just and reasonable cause.
- Willfully deprive someone of his or her constitutional rights.
- Place a person under arrest with no legal authority or probable cause (false imprisonment).
- Ignore a suspect’s serious medical needs or willfully fail to aid a suspect in need of medical care.
- Act in a callous or wanton disregard of the consequences to the person’s life.
If a police officer uses an excessive amount of force (including a taser, nightstick or pepper spray) or uses deadly force against a suspect without just cause or reason, the officer is guilty of police brutality. A law enforcement officer can be held accountable – both with a civil lawsuit and criminal charges – for the wrongful act that he or she committed.
What Are Common Injuries Caused by Police Brutality?
Police brutality has been known to cause serious, permanently disabling and fatal injuries to victims. Examples include broken bones, facial injuries, skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries, lacerations, asphyxiation, gunshot wounds, injuries from a police K-9 attack, psychological trauma and death.
What Are Your Rights as a Victim of Police Brutality in California?
If you or a loved one is a victim of police brutality in California, you may be entitled to financial compensation. An attorney can help you report the officer, file an internal complaint, press criminal charges to seek justice, and bring a personal injury or wrongful death case against a law enforcement agency. For more information about police brutality and your rights, contact Milanfar Law Firm, PC to request a free consultation with an attorney.