If you were injured during an encounter with law enforcement agents, a police brutality lawyer can help you file a complaint with the police department the responsible officers work for.
Police brutality cases in Los Angeles remain at a disturbingly high level, despite the fact that over the past few years California has implemented many reforms aimed at curbing this phenomenon and holding law enforcement agents accountable for their actions. If you were injured following an encounter with police and want to see justice done, it is best that you consult with an experienced Los Angeles police brutality lawyer before taking any action. There are legal ways to fight against this type of police misconduct, but you need to make sure you have a solid case if you want to see those who mistreated you punished and, possibly, taken off the streets of LA.
What constitutes police brutality in Los Angeles?
Police brutality is a form of police misconduct and falls in the same category as false arrests, racial profiling and illegal searches. In California, police brutality is defined as an ‘unlawful assault by a public officer under the color of authority’. The excessive use of force by a police officer constitutes a violation of an American citizen’s civil rights. The Fourth and the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution protect individuals against illegal searches and seizures, as well as against cruel and unusual punishment.
When you talk to a Los Angeles attorney specializing in civil rights violations, they will want to hear your story and see all the evidence to establish if it was, in fact, an ‘unlawful assault’.
Law enforcement agents do have the right to use force, but that force must be proportionate to the threat a suspect poses.
If a suspect does not resist arrest, police officers have no need and no right to use force. If force is necessary to subdue a suspect, all violence must cease once that person is handcuffed. Guns are a last resort option and can only be used if a suspect poses a clear threat to the lives and safety of the agents or other members of the public.
What are the legal options for victims of police brutality?
If you were injured during an encounter with law enforcement agents, a police brutality lawyer can help you file a complaint with the police department the responsible officers work for. According to the law, the department must investigate your complaint and take appropriate action if they determine that the officers are indeed guilty of misconduct. Police agents can be reprimanded, suspended, reassigned or even fired for misconduct. At least that’s what the law says. In real life, such outcomes are rare as internal investigations tend to favor the officer.
If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, you have the right to file a civil rights claim, also known as a Section 1983 claim. You will need a seasoned California civil rights lawyer to help you collect the evidence needed to support your charges. Also, your lawyer will advise you on the type of damages you can seek.
When you make a Section 1983 claim, you can claim compensatory damages, which should cover your financial losses, such as medical bills for treating your injuries and lost wages if you were forced to miss work.
At the same time, you can seek punitive damages which are meant to punish the police officer for their unlawful actions, and, in certain cases, you can also seek presumed damages for the loss of liberty, public humiliation or damages to your reputation.