Police Brutality Lawsuits

Posted on October 3, 2015

Police Brutality Lawsuits

If someone wants to sue the police for brutality or the excessive use of force, that person has to file a civil lawsuit. We’re going to take a closer look at what that lawsuit process typically looks like.

Police Conduct and Immunity

If you are considering suing the police for brutality or misconduct, you need to understand the idea of qualified immunity. Generally speaking, police officers cannot be sued for the actions they take while on the job as long as they perform their duties within reasonable bounds. If this happens, you cannot successfully file a lawsuit against the police or the organization that employed them. This immunity is designed to allow police to do their jobs without the constant worry of being sued for anything and everything they do.

However, immunity is not a blanket protection, and there are instances in which it doesn’t apply. In cases where the police violate someone’s constitutional rights, or otherwise act in a way that is unreasonable, unwarranted, and which produces some kind of injury or harm, immunity does not apply.

Federal Protections

Most lawsuits involving police brutality or misconduct hinge on the idea that the police’s actions violated the victim’s constitutional right. Under federal law, any police officer, or employee of the state, who acts under the “color of law” in order to deprive another person of his or her constitutional rights, or rights guaranteed under federal law, is liable for the harms suffered by that person at the hands of the office. This law, 42 USC section 1983, or more simply referred to as “section 1983,” allows victims of police brutality to file a lawsuit in federal court.

Section 1983 Cases and Policy Brutality

There are a variety of constitutional rights people can sue police for in section 1983 cases. These involve, for example, the failure to provide adequate medical attention while in police custody, being falsely arrested, being the target of malicious prosecution, being wrongfully convicted, or being the victim of excessive force.

In each case involving a section 1983 claim, it’s up to the victim, known as plaintiff, to provide evidence that shows that the police or the state deprived the victim of his or her constitutional rights. In other words, it’s not simply enough to make the claim, you have to prove to the court that your claim is true. This is quite often a difficult process, which is why it’s so vital to speak to a civil rights or personal injury attorney if you have been harmed by the police and are considering suing them for police brutality.

Any time you are talking about filing a lawsuit, the process involves specific laws. These laws can differ significantly between states, and depending on the circumstances of your case, can require you to take different actions. This is why it always vital to speak to an attorney in your area who is experienced with personal injury or civil rights cases before you make any decisions about filing a lawsuit.


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