At the end of October 2015, almost every major news source in the United States was reporting a story out of Columbia, South Carolina regarding a police assault of 16-year-old. [1] Unlike other instances of police violence, however, this assault took place inside the young girl’s high school math classroom. The 34-year-old policeman was working as a school resource officer when he was reportedly called in to help deal with a student who had been asked to leave the classroom. The student—believing she had done nothing wrong—had refused to leave her desk.

Another student caught what happened next on her cell phone video camera: the officer grabbed the girl, pulling on her violently and tipping her desk over. He then dragged the teenager out of her desk and threw her across the floor as he ordered her to put her arms behind her back. The student’s foster parents told media that she sustained injuries to her back and neck, as well as a fractured arm. She also understandably suffered from emotional trauma from the incident, since it was a brutal attack by an authority figure in a supposedly safe environment.

Victims of police brutality have rights

Law enforcement officers are given significant authority when a gun, badge, and arresting power are bestowed upon them. As the common saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and police officers have the strict responsibility to understand the laws regarding using force during an arrest or encounter and to abide by these laws. Unfortunately, as anyone can see from watching the news, officers do not always stay within the law themselves and can take part in brutal and wholly unjustified violence against civilians.

When police use excessive force, they not only violate the trust of the public but also often cause severe if not fatal injuries. Victims often suffer physical and emotional harm in addition to having their constitutional rights violated. The law provides victims of unjustified police brutality the right to recover for their losses and hold the police accountable for their actions.

Police violence in schools

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost half of the public schools in the United States hired a total of about 82,000 part-time or full-time school resource officers [2] for the 2013 to 2014 school year. These officers have the same arrest powers as any other law enforcement officer, however, they have different expectations and standards due to the nature of the school environment. A report by the Congressional Research Service [3] stated that school resource officers are expected to serve as conflict mediators and educators in addition to their law enforcement roles. Overall, school resource officers are expected to make positive contributions to the school environment and gain the trust of the students instead of simply acting as an enforcer. Unjustified brutality—while unacceptable in any scenario—is especially repugnant in a school atmosphere. In fact, some educations experts gave the opinion that the teachers and administrators should have handled the simple disciplinary issue and should not have involved the officer in the first place. That, of course, does not excuse the officer for the brutal assault on the teenage girl.

Police brutality cases can already be complex, but they may become even more complicated if they involve an assault on a student in school. Any parent who believes their child suffered harm at the hands of a school resource officer or another law enforcement officer should not hesitate to call an experienced Philadelphia police brutality lawyer for assistance.

Call a Philadelphia, PA criminal defense attorney to discuss your case today

There is no excuse for unwarranted force used by law enforcement officers, especially against children. Police officers should be held fully accountable for any brutality and victims should receive full compensation for any and all physical and emotional injuries they suffered as a result. At The Zeiger Firm in Philadelphia, not only do we represent defendants in criminal cases but we also stand up for the rights of victims of police brutality—whether they are facing a criminal case or not. Experienced police brutality lawyer Brain Zeiger firmly believes in helping victims injured by police and will strive for the most favorable results possible in each individual case.

Whether you have been a police violence victim, have been charged with a crime, or both, please call The Zeiger Firm in Philadelphia at 215-546-0340 to find out how we can help you as soon as possible.

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/26/us/south-carolina-spring-valley-high-school-student-video/

[2] http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2015/2015051.pdf

[3] https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43126.pdf

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