Law enforcement officers are granted a range of powers so that they can effectively carry out their official duties. Their powers are not, of course, limitless and they are legally required to exercise their authority within those limits and in a responsible way. Unfortunately, some police officers step out of line or way over the line and violate the civil rights of others in what can be a violent way. Here, we will take a closer look at police brutality civil rights claims.
Police Brutality Civil Rights Claims
Police brutality civil rights claims arise when police officers use excessive force. Excessive force means the officer used more force than what was necessary to properly address a situation. These types of claims are brought pursuant to 42 U.S. Code Section 1983 and are usually referred to simply as “Section 1983 claims.” This is the statute that grants the public a private right of action to hold law enforcement accountable for civil rights violations.
Excessive force, along with false arrest and prison abuse, falls under the Section 1983 claim purview. Determining whether excessive force was used in a situation will depend on a number of different factors. One primary factor is how the person being arrested or detained was acting. Excessive force is a serious problem. If you or a loved one was a victim of police brutality, then you should consider bringing a Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit against either the Pennsylvania State Police or a local law enforcement department.
Police must treat citizens according to specified standards in all official interactions. This means that such standards must be upheld in everything from questioning people to pulling them over for potential traffic violations. Should an officer be violent when arresting or detaining an individual who is acting calm and cooperating, then the officer could be held legally accountable for violating that individual’s civil rights.
In considering whether you have a valid Section 1983 claim on your hands for police brutality, there are a few questions you should consider. Many of the questions will focus on your behavior as well as that of the police officer.
- Were you cooperating with the police officer?
- Did the officer stop you for a legitimate reason?
- Was the officer’s use of force unprovoked?
- Were you injured?
- Were there any weapons involved?
The answers to these questions will play a critical role in evaluating the viability of your Section 1983 claim. It is a very fact specific inquiry and attention to detail is critical as is a solid grasp of the relevant laws. Retaining the assistance of a dedicated attorney with experience in bringing civil rights claim can prove invaluable in effectively bringing such a claim and presenting it in the strongest possible light.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
Have you been injured by a police officer due to their use of excessive force? The law gives you a way to seek legal remedies for the harm you have suffered. Talk to the team at Cooper, Schall & Levy about your options. Contact us today.