The Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Cooper, Schall & Levy are powerful litigators when it comes to protecting the civil rights of those injured by police brutality. If you have suffered serious harm, or a loved one has suffered a wrongful death, at the hands of law enforcers, contact our police brutality lawyers so that we can fight aggressively to win you the damages you deserve. Your initial consultation is free and we will charge you no attorneys’ fees until we win your case.
Although police brutality has always existed, in recent decades it has come into public awareness much more frequently, often connected to, or motivated by, racial or ethnic discrimination. Names like Rodney King, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are highly disturbing to most Americans. It is no coincidence that all three, like so very many other victims of police brutality, are African American. Other minority groups, such as Latinos and Muslims, are often targeted as well. Nonetheless, anyone can experience police brutality.
What constitutes police brutality?
In spite of the fact that police officers face danger daily in their jobs, they are trained to use only necessary force during arrests or other dealings with alleged criminals. If officers of the law use excessive force, causing severe injury or death, they are violating their oath of office and must be held accountable.
Whether or not you end up charged with or convicted of a crime, you are entitled to be treated with decency and respect during and after arrest. Our legal team will investigate your case thoroughly to see whether your civil rights have been violated; if so, we will negotiate, and if necessary litigate to see that justice is done.
Types of Police Brutality
While most law enforcement officers take their work seriously and obey the law themselves, too large a minority use their own physical powers or devices at their disposal to abuse those under their control with:
- Tasers that use electrical force to down alleged offenders. While tasers are not considered deadly, for people with certain health conditions they may be.
- Pepper Spray that can overwhelm a targeted individual, but can also trigger extreme respiratory distress.
- Chokeholds, like the one that resulted in the death of Eric Garner, are known to render victims unconscious, and possibly cause permanent injury or death. Although long banned, police officers continue to use this dangerous tactic.
- Assault against individuals already under their control. Too many police officers kick, punch, or bang the heads of alleged offenders against a wall or the ground, too frequently causing traumatic brain injury or other permanently disabling injuries.
- Shootings that are later determined to have been unnecessary according to law enforcement’s own rules about circumstances that require discharging a weapon.
At times, shootings maim or kill innocent bystanders.
Discrimination Is a Major Feature of Police Brutality
Discrimination is a major factor in police brutality cases. According to statistics gathered by The Philadelphia Tribune between 2013 and 2021, Black individuals were found to be over 5 times as likely as whites to be killed by police. Although Black Pennsylvanians make up only 11 percent of the state’s population, they accounted for 33 percent of the fatalities caused by law enforcement during that period.
If your incident of police brutality involves discrimination, whether due to your skin color or your religion or ethnicity, that factor will feature in our lawsuit.
The Laws that Protect You from Police Brutality
Our police brutality attorneys are well-practiced in protecting victims from law enforcers’ abuse of power. We have a strong track record of winning cases. Our comprehensive knowledge of pertinent state and federal laws and our investigative and strategic skills give us an edge when it comes to bringing your case to a successful conclusion.
The laws that protect your civil rights when it comes to police brutality include:
- Section 1983 of The Civil Rights Act of 1871, commonly known as U.S.C. §1983
- The Fourth Amendment of The Constitution
- Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Under Pennsylvania and federal law, you have the right to sue both the Philadelphia Police and the City of Philadelphia if you have been the victim of police brutality or if you have lost a close relative to such violence.
The most common claims related to civil rights and police brutality include:
- False arrest
- Malicious prosecution
- Unreasonable use of force
- Sexual assault
- Failure to intervene
Officers have a duty to protect individuals from constitutional violations by fellow officers. Therefore, an officer who witnesses a fellow officer violating an individual’s constitutional rights may be liable to the victim for failing to intervene.
How Cooper Schall & Levy Can Will Help
Our skilled attorneys are well-prepared to fight for your civil rights. Nobody should be a victim of police brutality. We will work diligently in your best interests by:
- Gathering any photographic and/or surveillance footage of the incident (e.g. images of wounds, torn or bloody clothing, damaged or destroyed property)
- Contacting and interviewing any witnesses
- Communicating and negotiating with opposing attorneys
- Examining police records and medical reports
- Investigating the defendant’s history of any similar misconduct
- Consulting experts (medical, forensic, etc.) whose testimony may bolster your case
As your civil rights attorneys in your case against police brutality, we will have to overcome the qualified immunity defense — a claim intended to protect police from being prevented from doing their jobs for fear of legal prosecution. Don’t worry though; our police brutality lawyers are well-prepared to confront such claims.
Damages for Pennsylvania Police Brutality and Civil Rights Claims
If you have been seriously injured by police whose duty it is to protect citizens from harm, you are entitled to compensatory damages, and if the misconduct was especially malicious or discriminatory, perhaps punitive damages as well. Our legal team will fight to obtain damages for:
- Medical and rehabilitation costs
- Lost income, present and future
- Property damage or loss
- Physical pain and mental suffering (for fear, humiliation, etc.)
- Permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If your case is being brought on behalf of a loved one who suffered a wrongful death, we will seek damages for final medical costs, funeral costs, and loss of financial and emotional support. Though this settlement can never erase your loss, we hope it will bring you some sense of justice and some measure of peace.
Contact Our Experienced Civil Rights & Police Brutality Lawyers Today
Do not remain a victim of police brutality. Get in touch with the sharp attorneys of Schall & Levy as soon as possible so we can start setting things right for you, your family, and the community at large.
Cooper Schall & Levy personal injury lawyers serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as neighboring counties such as Montgomery County and Delaware County and cover neighborhoods such as Norristown and Drexel Hill.