We should trust police officers to keep us safe and not use unnecessary violence or cause injuries during an encounter or an arrest. Even though police might suspect you of doing something wrong when they stop you, they do not have the right to use any amount of physical force they choose. The law prohibits them from using excessive force, given a specific situation.
Unfortunately, police officers do not always abide by such restrictions and regularly cause preventable injuries to citizens. People who suffer injuries due to excessive police force should speak with an injury lawyer about a possible civil case to seek compensation.
An example of a recent excessive force lawsuit victory was a payout to 32 police brutality protesters in Columbus, Ohio. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, this group was at a police brutality march, and their peaceful protests were met with pepper spray, tear gas, and wooden batons. Many of the protesters suffered very serious injuries. The City of Columbus agreed to a $5.75 million settlement for the group.
To learn whether you have a case, reach out to a trusted legal team today.
Excessive Police Force Statistics
According to Proceedings for the Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS):
- Between the ages of 25-29, black people identifying as males are killed by law enforcement at a rate between 2.8-4.1 per 100,000.
- Across the country, excessive police force is a leading cause of death for young people identifying as men.
- The average likelihood of dying due to police excessive force is about one in 2,000 for those identifying as male and about one in 33,000 for those identifying as female.
- Since 2008, rates of police violence deaths have jumped by as much as 50%. While black people remain disproportionately more likely than whites to die at the hands of the police, the share of white deaths is also on the rise.
- American police officers kill significantly more people than do their counterparts in other first-world countries.
- The risk of dying from police violence peaks from the ages of 20-35 across all races and genders.
- 52 out of every 100,000 Americans identifying as male will be killed by excessive police force over the course of their life. Three of every 100,000 Americans identifying as female will be killed by excessive police force.
- Latinx people identifying as male are also more likely than whites to be killed by police as well. 53 out of 100,000 Latinx people identifying as male will be killed by the police in the United States.
- Americans identifying as female are 20 times less likely to be killed by law enforcement than those identifying as male.
- One in every 1,000 black people identifying as male can expect to be killed by law enforcement in the US.
Suing the Police for Use of Excessive Force
Use of excessive force by law enforcement is a crime, and police can definitely be prosecuted and sent to jail for killing or seriously injuring citizens under their protection. Because the prosecutors or district attorneys that would pursue a criminal case against a police officer have a very close relationship with the police, these cases are almost always thrown out completely or plea bargained down to a slap on the wrist.
Every time a cop arrests someone, their report is sent to the prosecutor’s office. The police and prosecutors are in constant contact discussing details of upcoming cases. Any time a police officer appears in court, the prosecutor is there. The district attorneys and police make small talk in the hallway before or after a hearing or trial since they are always on the same side—one is an extension of the other. For a prosecuting attorney to decide to pursue an excessive force criminal charge against someone from their own team is, as you might imagine, a major career risk that most DAs rarely take.
Having said that, suing a police officer takes the case to a completely different side of the courthouse, as you can file an injury or civil rights claim in civil court. You’ll have the attorney of your choice on your side instead of being dependent on a prosecutor to advocate for you.
To say the least, your chances of winning a lawsuit against a cop are far greater than your chances of sending them to jail. The burden of proof in civil court is also more relaxed than in criminal court—this is how OJ Simpson was found guilty in civil court when Nicole Brown’s family sued him for wrongful death, but he was found not guilty in criminal court.
Your Rights & Police Responsibilities
Law enforcement is supposed to use only the necessary force to make an arrest (or at any other time in their involvement with the public). When a jury must decide whether a police officer used an appropriate amount of force or not, the jury instructions will tell the jury to remember to think about the situation with the knowledge, training, and experience a cop has (or should have).
Excessive police force violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. If you have been the victim of excessive force, you may not only be able to sue the officer and police department in question, you may also be able to sue the city or county where the incident occurred. Most lawsuits against the police actually cite the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Under section 1983 of this law, excessive police force is valid grounds for a lawsuit under section.
Call a San Francisco Excessive Force Lawyer Now
Your choice of an excessive force lawyer will definitely be a factor in your case’s success. Concerned that you don’t have enough money to pay for an industry-leading attorney? At the Cartwright Law Firm, our clients pay us on a contingency basis. This means you are not charged anything up front. Our legal fees are deducted from your compensation award if we win your case.
Don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a free consultation with one of our qualified and passionate attorneys today.