Police brutality or misconduct occurs when officers use excessive force, arrest or hold people without probable cause, or otherwise violate the civil and constitutional rights of individuals. Unfortunately, police brutality and misconduct can have a devastating impact on victims’ lives by causing serious physical, emotional, and financial harm. If you have suffered mistreatment at the hands of the police, a Delaware County police brutality lawyer at The Zeiger Firm can help.
With our extensive experience representing individuals in the criminal justice system, we know what it takes to deal with police who violate the public’s trust and the rights of the very individuals they are supposed to serve. Attorney Brian J. Zeiger strives to not only hold police officers who engage in wrongful and illegal behavior accountable, but to also pursue the compensation his clients need and deserve for their injuries and losses.
If you have been the victim of misconduct by law enforcement officers in Delaware County, contact The Zeiger Firm today for a free case review with a Delaware County police brutality lawyer. Learn about your legal rights and options for holding police officers accountable for their unlawful and harmful behavior.
Causes of Police Brutality in Delaware County
Unfortunately, police brutality and misconduct occur despite the trust that the public places in law enforcement to fulfill their duties in accordance with the law and with respect to the rights of the public. Some of the reasons officers in Delaware County may engage in misconduct or brutality against members of the public include:
- Negligent hiring – A law enforcement agency may fail to conduct a proper background check, which leads to the hiring of an officer with a history of misconduct and incidents of police brutality.
- Inadequate training – Officers may lack the training needed to control their emotions during high-stress situations like vehicle chases, suspect pursuits, or encounters with potentially armed individuals or individuals resisting arrest. Officers need to be taught the limits of police authority, when to properly use force, and how to de-escalate potentially violent situations. They also must understand the civil and constitutional rights of individuals.
- Improper supervision – Police departments can lack adequate internal investigation and disciplinary procedures. The lack of a deterrent can lead officers to engage in unreasonable conduct.
- Racism – Intentional racism or bigotry, subconscious bias, or institutional racism often is a factor in instances of police misconduct.
- Culture – Officers in a law enforcement agency often “close ranks” around their fellow officers to cover-up misconduct. Officers may also feel too intimidated to intervene and stop observed misconduct by fellow officers or to speak out.
Additionally, officers can engage in vigilante behavior when they believe the system unfairly restricts police efforts or does not appropriately prevent or punish criminal behavior. At The Zeiger Firm, we will thoroughly investigate your case to determine why it occurred and identify every individual or department that should be held accountable.
Common Types of Police Brutality and Misconduct in Delaware County
Types of behavior by police officers that constitute misconduct or brutality against suspects and citizens include:
- False or unlawful arrest – This occurs when the police arrest an individual even though they know or should know they lack sufficient probable cause.
- False imprisonment – This includes detaining an individual without probable cause or detaining a suspect for longer than allowed by law or rule.
- Excessive force – The use of force disproportionate to the threat of harm posed to officers or to the public, or the use of more force than necessary to detain and arrest a suspect.
- Deadly force – This can occur through the unsafe use of less-than-lethal devices or techniques that lead to an individual’s death, or through the use of unauthorized force that has a significant risk of causing serious bodily injury or death.
- Police shooting – This occurs when officers discharge their firearms against suspects, including suspects are unarmed or even in retreat at the time of the shooting.
- Forced confession – This includes confessions that are obtained by threats against suspects or their family and acquaintances or by physical or psychological violence.
- Sexual assault or harassment – Rape and other illegal sexual contact, harassing statements based on sex, or demanding sexual favors in exchange for preferential treatment all fall in this category.
- Racial profiling – This happens when a law enforcement officer suspects someone of committing a crime due to their color or race.
- Strip searches – Officers may perform a strip search to embarrass or humiliate a detainee rather than for a legitimate security or law enforcement purpose.
- Blackmail or coercion – An officer may engage in this misconduct to get individuals to cooperate with an investigation by providing evidence or testimony (often without regard to whether such evidence or testimony is even reliable).
What Can You Recover in a Police Brutality Claim?
The losses you suffer due to police misconduct or brutality can impact multiple aspects of your life. In addition to financial losses, you may experience personal harm, including physical injury and mental distress. In a police brutality claim, you may be entitled to recover compensation for expenses and losses you have incurred, such as:
- Expenses for medical treatment and rehabilitation of injuries or medical conditions suffered due to police misconduct or brutality
- Emotional trauma and distress you experience, including the costs of the mental health treatment you seek for emotional or mental injuries
- Lost wages or income if you take time off work to treat and recover from the injuries you suffered as a result of police brutality
- Lost future earning capacity if you lose employment or employment opportunities because of a false arrest, false imprisonment, or wrongful prosecution or conviction
- Permanent physical and mental injuries that you suffered that lead to expenses and impact your long-term quality of life
What to Do If You Were the Victim of Police Brutality in Delaware County
If you find yourself the victim of police brutality or misconduct in Delaware County, you can act to protect your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation for the injuries and losses you have suffered. At The Zeiger Firm, we suggest that you:
- Don’t resist an arrest even if you believe you are being falsely arrested. Resisting arrest is a crime separate from the underlying offense you were arrested for. It can lead to a conviction even if you prove your innocence of that underlying offense. Resisting arrest can also justify the police using a greater level of force against you, potentially undermining a later claim of police brutality or misconduct.
- Note any bystanders who saw the incident of misconduct. You or your attorney can later reach out to them to obtain a statement or maybe a copy of any cellphone video footage they may have taken.
- See a medical professional as soon as possible to get examined for any injuries or other medical conditions you may have suffered because of the police misconduct. Take photos of visible injuries.
- Keep records to document any expenses or costs you incurred during your recovery as well as records to document your lost wages or income if you miss time from work or lose your job because of the police misconduct.
It’s also important to see a Delaware County police brutality lawyer from The Zeiger Firm as soon as possible to learn about your best options for seeking accountability from those who harmed you.
How a Delaware County Police Brutality Attorney Can Help You
Due to the legal protections that law enforcement officers and agencies enjoy, many police brutality and misconduct claims ultimately fail. To ensure you have the best chance at recovering compensation in your claim, let seasoned Delaware County police brutality attorney Brian J. Zeiger to help you by:
- Investigating the police misconduct to recover any available evidence that can be used to prove your legal right to recover compensation
- Documenting your injuries and losses that you suffered because of police brutality or misconduct
- Identifying the officers involved in the misconduct as well as the police departments and government agencies that can be held liable for the officers’ conduct
- Timely filing your claims under notice deadlines and statues of limitations
- Zealously pursuing maximum financial recovery for you through a negotiated settlement or by taking your claim to court and to trial, if necessary
Evidence We May Use to Prove a Police Brutality Claim
Pursuing a tort claim for police brutality or misconduct requires securing and assembling persuasive evidence. Police officers and law enforcement departments are entitled to sovereign immunity and qualified immunity that protects them from civil liability for any harm that may arise from the reasonable exercise of their duties.
At The Zeiger Firm, we will leave no stone unturned in pursuing evidence needed to show that your civil and constitutional rights were violated. This evidence may include:
- Bystander statements and testimony
- Bystander cellphone video footage
- Police cruiser dashcam footage
- Officer bodycam footage
- Surveillance camera footage, including from the police station, interrogation rooms, or jail facilities
- Police records, such as arrest reports, use-of-force reports, and internal investigation reports
- Officer employment and disciplinary records
- Medical records for the treatment of physical or mental injuries, as well as photographs of visible injuries
Talk to a Police Brutality Lawyer in Delaware County Today
If you have been injured or suffered losses due to police misconduct, contact The Zeiger Firm today for a free consultation with Delaware County police brutality lawyer Brian J. Zeiger. We will review how our firm can guide you through the process of holding the officers who engaged in misconduct accountable and pursuing the financial recovery you deserve. Contact us now to get started.