When excessive force by police officers causes injuries, injury victims can file civil lawsuits to recover compensation for medical bills and other damages.
When Excessive Force Causes Injuries
Law enforcement officers such as city police, county sheriffs, and federal FBI agents have a professional duty to protect the individuals and communities they serve. Their official duties provide a certain degree of latitude while enforcing the law, but there are limits on what is acceptable and what is not. Legally, law enforcement officers must bear responsibility for the physical safety of individuals, even if those individuals are targeted for arrest.
As a general rule, law enforcement officers may only use the degree of force that is necessary to maintain control of a situation and protect the public from harm. Any use of force that falls outside of these parameters can be viewed as excessive force. If someone is injured as a direct result of excessive force, a personal injury attorney can file a civil lawsuit on the injury victim’s behalf to recover damages for injuries.
In a recent Indiana case, four Muncie police officers were charged with excessive force and obstruction by a federal grand jury. The four officers were accused of using excessive force and attempting to cover up their misconduct. According to allegations, the officers were accused of punching, shoving, and kicking a suspect for more that two minutes after a traffic stop to look for drugs in the suspect’s car. While no drugs were found in the car, the suspect sustained facial fractures and three broken ribs as a result of the incident.
Although laws and regulations that address the use of excessive force by police officers vary by state, they clearly prohibit excessive force that causes physical injury and/or death. While physical injury may constitute a civil lawsuit by a personal injury attorney, death may give rise to a civil wrongful death lawsuit, as well as criminal liability and prosecution of the offending police officer.
Civil lawsuits filed for the use of excessive force, police misconduct, and police brutality are based on civil rights violations. When police violate a person’s civil rights, that person is entitled to file a civil lawsuit to recover for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Such lawsuits also permit injunctions against the police officer to prevent future misconduct.