Police officers play an important role in our society, often putting their lives at risk for the benefit of their communities. However, some police officers abuse their authority or use excessive force. If you are a victim of police brutality or a police beating, it is important to talk to an experienced personal injury or civil rights attorney to assess your case. If you have been wrongly injured by a police officer, you be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
The most severe cases of police brutality end in the wrongful death of the victim. For example, in January 2009 Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a transit officer. According to some reports, Grant had been handcuffed and was lying unarmed on the ground when the officer pulled his gun and shot Grant in the back killing him. The officer testified in his own defense that he thought his gun was actually his Taser. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a criminal trial. Grant’s family filed a civil lawsuit for $25 million in damages and settled the case for $5.1 million payable to Grant’s daughter (5 years old at the time) through her 30’s.
Police brutality doesn’t have to involve death. There have been several reports of police brutality caused by handcuff injuries. For example, plastic handcuffs (zip-ties) have sharp edges and can cut off blood or cause nerve damage. When the wrists swell due to the injury, this makes matters even worse and may require corrective surgery. Metal handcuffs also can cause injury. Most metal handcuffs have a double lock mechanism which keeps the handcuffs from tightening further. If the double lock is not used (some suggest this may be done intentionally as a form or intimidation or torture), the handcuffs can cause serious injury. When police fail to follow procedures for the use of handcuffs, or use them to intimidate or torture a victim, and the victim suffers injuries as a result, a civil lawsuit may be the best way to recover compensation for the injuries caused.
It is not advised to file a policy brutality or policy beating report on your own. You can usually arrange an initial consult with a personal injury or civil rights attorney free of charge. If you start the process on your own, here are a few suggestions.
In most jurisdictions, you can file an internal complaint with the local police department. They might assess and decide your case by reviewing only your written complaint. If you don’t get a favorable response, then you can appeal to the citizen police review board. Review board authority differs from state to state. In some states, a review board may have authority to sanction or punish an offending officer; other states may allow their review boards to award monetary damages to victims.
For more information, you can visit the National Association for the Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement website, call your local police department or talk to a personal injury or civil rights lawyer.