You will need to act fast as you only have 90 days to file a claim against a government institution.
Pennsylvania is one of 23 states where police misconduct records are shielded from public scrutiny. The police don’t want you to know which law enforcement agents were charged with police brutality, even though this has become a hotly-debated issue in the wake of the George Floyd case.
This doesn’t mean that you are powerless. Pennsylvania police brutality lawyers are your best allies and sometimes your only allies in your fight for justice.
Police officers have an essential mission, to make sure the laws are obeyed. They do not make the laws and most certainly they are not above the law. When they break the law they must be held accountable just like any other citizens.
What constitutes an excessive use of force
The excessive use of force is one of the most common forms of police misconduct. Law enforcement agents are allowed to use force in the course of their duty, but only when this is strictly necessary. If a suspect does not resist arrest, there is no need for the police to use a taser to subdue them. Or to put their knee on the suspect’s neck. The problem is that police agents can always claim that they had reason to believe the suspect might be dangerous. Any decision they make in the heat of the moment is open to interpretation. As a victim, you’ll need an experienced Philadelphia police brutality lawyer to prove that the use of force was not warranted in your case.
What is a civil complaint
If you were injured during the police intervention you have the right to file a civil complaint for police brutality and seek damages. Your chosen lawyers will help you formulate the claim and they will set to work to prove your case. If it’s your word against an officer’s word you are never going to win. Your attorneys will interview the officers involved in your case to listen to their side of the story, the one they will present in court. They will also talk to eyewitnesses and they will request access to body cam and surveillance camera footage.
An important part of the investigation is looking into the officers’ past. As mentioned above, such records are not available to the public, but your attorneys have the right to know if the agents that abused you were charged with similar acts in the past. If a pattern of abuse can be established this will be very helpful for your case. At the same time, this might open the possibility of filing a claim against the police department. At the very least, the department can be charged with failing to provide proper training to its employees. However, you will need to act fast as you only have 90 days to file a claim against a government institution.
What to do if you were falsely arrested
If you were falsely arrested or coerced into making a confession, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer can have any resulting charges dismissed. Police officers cannot arrest you without a warrant or without a strong reason to do so. Once again, this rule is open to interpretation and it takes a lawyer with many years of practice in the field to prove that the police had no valid reason to arrest you, which makes their action a clear violation of your constitutional rights.