Mistreatment by police can be embarrassing and terrifying. If you were unfairly harassed, physically assaulted, or suffered other injuries because of dangerous policing, talk to an attorney today. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the police department and the officers that abused your rights or used excessive force.
The Philadelphia police brutality lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm represent injury victims in personal injury lawsuits against the parties that caused them harm. In a police brutality case, you may be able to recover substantial compensation for unfair treatment and abuses you suffered. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (215) 246-9000.
Definition of Excessive Force for Police in Pennsylvania
The job of police is to protect and serve. Their ultimate duty is to prevent crime and enforce the law to the best of their abilities, but there are limitations on their power. Even though police are given guns and charged with stopping criminals, they do not have unlimited power and should never use excessive force during an arrest, nor unnecessarily strike or injure people in their custody.
There are horror stories of rumored excessive force in Philadelphia, as well as well-documented examples of police using deadly force or excessive force on suspected criminals. Many of these instances go far beyond what police should be doing, and what the law authorizes. Police may use force, but that force must always be proportional to the threat. This means that police are only authorized to use enough force to overcome the situation at hand, and that force must be reasonable. For instance, two or more police officers may need to physically restrain a suspect if they are resisting arrest, but that may not justify striking the suspect or using a Taser. Additionally, the use of deadly force is only a legal option in very limited circumstances.
If a police officer uses too much force or the force used is unreasonable, the suspect may be a victim of police brutality. Alongside physical brutality, those in custody could also face mental abuse, sexual abuse, or mistreatment by police. While in custody, your safety is the police department’s responsibility. Failing to administer aid during an injury or illness could be a rights violation similar to police brutality.
Examples of police mistreatment include:
- Physical, sexual, or mental abuse while in custody;
- Unlawful arrests;
- Excessive force to make an arrest;
- Use of unjustified deadly force;
- Misuse of Tasers, mace, or other less-lethal weapons;
- Misuse of handcuffs or injuries from improper handcuffing;
- Failure to render aid to a prisoner;
- Failing to feed or give water to prisoners;
- Injuries or illness from unsanitary conditions while in custody;
- And many other abuses.
Suing Police Departments in Philadelphia for Police Brutality
Victims of police brutality may be able to sue the police involved in their abuse, seeking monetary damages for the injuries and wrongdoing. Unfortunately, many victims of police brutality do not survive. In these situations, their survivors may be able to sue the police department for wrongful death.
The first step in proving a police brutality case is showing that the police illegally harmed you. Since force is sometimes authorized, suspects and prisoners may face some injuries that were legally authorized. However, injuries from excessive force, beatings while in custody, or other abuses of power are never legal and could be the basis of a lawsuit. The same is true for neglect, negligence, or failures to render aid that caused injuries or allowed injuries to worsen.
The rules in place for police should not rely on whether or not you actually committed a crime. Suspects who are eventually found guilty are entitled to the same human rights as innocent Americans. This means that most police brutality cases do not hinge on whether or not you committed the crime, and you should be entitled to sue for police brutality even if you are convicted. For instance, a victim of sexual abuse, mistreatment, or neglect while in jail should be entitled to the same relief, whether or not they actually committed a crime.
If you were the victim of police brutality, you may be entitled to various forms of relief. Your defense attorney may be able to use your claims of brutality in your criminal law case to suppress evidence gained by certain rights abuses. However, in a civil lawsuit, your personal injury lawyer may be able to argue for damages to cover your medical expenses, lost wages if you missed work because of the abuse you suffered, and damages for your pain and suffering. You may also be entitled to additional damages a judge can order against the police who harmed you to punish their bad actions, especially if they were intentional or systematic abuses of authority. These are known as “punitive” or “exemplary” damages.
Philadelphia Injury Lawyers for Police Brutality Victims
The Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm represent victims of serious injuries involving abuse of power. If you or a loved one suffered physical abuse or mistreatment by police officers or prison guards, talk to an attorney today. You could be entitled to compensation for your injuries if you take your case to court. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (215) 246-9000.