You may think police brutality will never affect you or a loved one. But when it does, a police brutality attorney can help. Understanding the difference between law enforcement standard operating procedures and police brutality is essential. When police violate a constitutional right, it is time to take action. Here are seven reasons to hire a police brutality lawyer.
7 Common Reasons People Hire Police Brutality Attorneys
As an American, you have seen countless news reports of police brutality occurring across the nation. Stories of police violating civil rights are abundant. Police brutality can and does happen. Since 2015, there have been nearly 8,000 fatal police shootings across the U.S., over 1,000 of them in the last 12 months.
Police shooting suspects prematurely is not a new issue. As such, dealing with law enforcement can be intimidating and sometimes frightening, even if you have done nothing wrong. A police misconduct attorney can help you enforce your rights after an unlawful arrest.
If you find yourself in a confrontation with police, for your well-being, it is advisable to comply with all law enforcement officer requests promptly and without argument. Police brutality extends beyond police shootings to additional civil rights violations. If officers infringe upon your constitutional rights by causing physical harm or conducting an unreasonable search or seizure, experienced civil rights lawyers can help.
If you have been detained, request to speak with your attorney immediately, regardless of your innocence.
1. False Arrest
If a police officer arrests you without a legally justifiable reason, you have become the victim of a false arrest, also called an unreasonable seizure. A wrongful arrest violates your civil rights, which the Constitution's Bill of Rights dictates.
A false arrest is a federal crime, as it violates your civil rights. Additionally, if the police department involved in your false arrest makes false statements to cover up your illegal arrest, this constitutes an additional federal crime.
If you have been the subject of a false arrest, a police harassment lawyer can help you assert your rights and file a legal action in the appropriate court of law.
2. Police Misconduct
Police misconduct can take various forms. It can occur before an arrest, during an arrest, or after an arrest. There are federal procedural rules that law enforcement must adhere to during each of these stages. If the police fail to follow these rules, you may become a victim of police brutality.
Examples of police misconduct before an arrest may include:
- Racial profiling
- Acting without a necessary warrant
Examples of police misconduct during an arrest may include:
- Police brutality
- Excessive force
- Sexual assault
- False arrest
Examples of police misconduct after an arrest may include:
- Lying on police reports or in court testimonies
- Coerced confessions
- Witness intimidation
- Mishandling evidence
If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of police misconduct, contact an experienced police misconduct lawyer to discuss your legal options.
3. Illegal search and seizure
An illegal search and seizure can occur when law enforcement conducts a search without proper authorization, such as a search warrant or probable cause to believe a crime was actively in the process of being committed. An illegal seizure occurs when law enforcement takes something, such as evidence, or makes an illegal arrest without following proper procedural rules.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. The case law based on Fourth Amendment issues helps to flesh out exceptions and expansions of Fourth Amendment rights.
Not all warrantless searches and seizures are illegal, as exceptions do exist. However, the officers must generally have a good reason for conducting a warrantless search and seizure.
If you believe law enforcement has conducted an illegal search and seizure against you, you should contact a police misconduct attorney.
4. Racial Profiling
Racial profiling is a discriminatory practice used by police officers. Officers target people as criminal suspects based on their race, national origin, ethnicity, or religion.
An example of racial profiling is targeting Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, despite the victim-suspect having no connection to the attacks.
Sometimes a police officer may search for a suspect reported to be a certain race or ethnicity in addition to other defining characteristics. In this case, stopping a potential suspect who matches the suspect's description is not necessarily racial profiling.
If you think the police have racially profiled you, speaking with lawyers about police harassment can help you understand your rights.
5. Wrongful Shooting of an Unarmed Person
The police shootings of unarmed persons are always a tragedy. Sometimes these shootings are validated, but often, they may be an example of extreme police brutality.
Some cases have shown police to be too trigger-happy, using more force than police training recommends. Police shootings often involve high-stress situations where the police officers may genuinely fear for their lives. Sometimes this fear is valid; other times, it is not. The data shows that black Americans are overrepresented among those fatally shot by police. Regardless of officers' genuine concern for their own safety, shooting an unarmed person in many situations is illegal.
Another issue is the tendency of police to shoot people who suffer from untreated mental illness. Whether a police shooting is validated or illegal takes careful consideration of the facts. If a police officer has shot you or a loved one, you should speak with a civil rights attorney about filing legal action.
6. False Imprisonment
False imprisonment occurs whenever officers unlawfully confine a person. False imprisonment can occur in various locations, including:
In a police department car
In a jail cell
Victims of false imprisonment should speak with an experienced lawyer and explore possible police misconduct lawsuits.
7. Civil Rights Violation
No one should be forced to endure civil rights violations by the police officers who should protect them. Civil rights violations can come in various forms. Lawyers file civil rights cases in civil lawsuits. If you believe an officer impeded your civil rights, you should speak with a civil rights lawyer to determine the strength of a potential lawsuit.
Do You Have a Case?
Victims of police brutality and other civil rights abuses have a right to justice. If you believe law enforcement officers have violated the civil rights of yourself or a loved one, you may have a valid legal case.
Not every negative encounter with a police officer amounts to brutality or civil rights abuse. However, the best way to find out is to speak with an experienced police brutality attorney. The civil rights legal team at McEldrew Purtell is well-versed in the laws surrounding police brutality.
Contact us today to speak with a police brutality lawyer about your experience.