Defining what is reasonable force and what not is very complicated, but this is what you need to do when you file a civil complaint asking for damages.
Numbers don’t lie and they are frightening. Oklahoma has the highest mortality rate of police brutality among all 50 states, according to a recent study published by The Lancet. As if this weren’t enough, Oklahoma also ranks first for underreporting police killings. Black people account for the vast majority of police brutality victims in Oklahoma. And it’s not just about killings, but also about racial profiling and the excessive use of force during police interventions.
To put an end to this shameful situation, victims and their families need to speak out. If you were a victim of police misconduct, you’ll count yourself lucky you’re still breathing. The next victim might not be so lucky if you don’t contact a tough Oklahoma police brutality lawyer and have the perpetrators brought to justice.
The tragic death of George Floyd last year served to put under the spotlight the questionable methods used by police to subdue suspects. According to the law, police officers are authorized to use force when faced with an armed or dangerous person. If a suspect tries to flee or resists arrest, law enforcement can also use force, but only a reasonable amount of force. At issue here is the term reasonable, and it will take a very skilled Oklahoma City police brutality lawyer to prove an officer used excessive force.
Take for instance the recent case of 74-year-old Ruby Jones, a black grandmother living in Oklahoma City, who ended up with a broken arm following a brutal police intervention. Besides entering her house without a warrant, the agents who were looking for her mentally ill son handcuffed the old woman and broke her arm in the process. Jones immediately filed a complaint and a good thing she did. On the body cam footage, the officers can be clearly heard saying she was resisting, although she clearly wasn’t. Can a 74-year-old woman be considered a threat to a bunch of armed officers? Is the use of force warranted in such a situation? Clearly not.
This is one of the first things police misconduct lawyers do, check the body cam footage and recordings on surveillance cameras in the area. The images speak for themselves, but, just to be sure, an experienced attorney will also interview the officers involved and talk to eyewitnesses.
Defining what is reasonable force and what not is very complicated, but this is what you need to do when you file a civil complaint asking for damages. What kind of damages can you recover after this type of police misconduct? First of all, that depends on the severity of the injuries sustained. A victim has the right to get economic damages covering the medical bills and the physical therapy you might need. If your injury caused you to miss work, you can also be compensated for lost wages.
At the same time, victims of police brutality can claim damages for the mental and emotional trauma. Being handcuffed and shoved out of your own house, like Ruby Jones was, is a traumatic experience no matter your age.
Also, if a police intervention is deemed particularly shocking, the victim can also claim punitive damages. Not from the state. You cannot demand punitive damages from the police department, but the individuals involved can and should pay for their actions. Maybe they and their colleagues will learn something.