When the brutality or misconduct of law enforcement officers hurts others, those officers should be held accountable. Unfortunately, police brutality claims are among the most difficult types of cases to pursue. If you have been harmed due to the actions of law enforcement, you will need a seasoned Erie police brutality lawyer to help you pursue justice and the compensation you deserve.
For experienced legal representation and aggressive advocacy in your police brutality case, turn to attorney Brian J. Zeiger. He is committed to protecting the rights and interests of those involved in the criminal justice system. At The Zeiger Firm, we know how to respond when police officers and law enforcement departments mistreat citizens and violate the public’s trust.
Contact us today to learn more. We can provide a free, confidential consultation to discuss your legal options for recovering compensation from the officers who harmed you.
How an Erie Police Brutality Attorney Can Help You
If you’ve been seriously injured by law enforcement, Erie police brutality attorney Brian J. Zeiger can help you demand justice by:
- Thoroughly investigating your case to secure all available evidence, including recorded footage, police records, and records from your medical treatment
- Documenting your injuries and losses, including calculating future expected financial needs
- Identifying the officers at fault for the harm you have suffered along with the departments and government agencies that can be held liable to compensate you
- Preparing and filing your claims with the relevant government agencies, including ensuring that notice of your claims is timely filed under Pennsylvania law
- Aggressively pursuing full and fair compensation for you, whether through a negotiated settlement or by taking your case to trial to fight for the financial recovery you deserve
Proving a Police Brutality Claim
Police brutality claims are some of the most difficult claims to pursue. Police officers and law enforcement departments are entitled to various legal immunities, including sovereign immunity and qualified immunity. These immunities are intended to ensure that police officers do not worry about facing a civil lawsuit while in the reasonable performance of their duties.
However, qualified or sovereign immunity should not protect an officer who intentionally or recklessly violated your civil or constitutional rights. An Erie police brutality lawyer can help show that an officer should be held liable to compensate you for your injuries and losses by relying on evidence such as:
- Police dashboard footage
- Officer bodycam footage
- Eyewitness statements
- Bystander cellphone video footage
- Police reports and records, including arrest reports, use-of-force reports, or internal investigation reports
- Photographs of visible injuries you suffered
- Medical records from treatment for injuries or harm you suffered
- Employment and disciplinary records of the officers involved in brutality or misconduct
Our firm will conduct an in-depth investigation to uncover all possible evidence in your case.
Common Types of Police Brutality and Misconduct in Erie
With years of experience representing victims of police brutality in Erie and surrounding areas, attorney Brian J. Zeiger understands the many types of misconduct that officers and agencies can engage in, including:
- False or unlawful arrest – Intentionally or knowingly arresting an innocent person or recklessly arresting an individual without sufficient probable cause
- False imprisonment – The continued detention of individuals without probable cause or other lawful justification
- Excessive force – The use of force disproportionate to the threat posed by a suspect or to the level of force needed to successfully detain and arrest a suspect
- Deadly force – The improper use of restraint techniques or less-than-lethal devices, or the infliction of fatal injuries in a police assault
- Police shooting – Where the use of firearms was not justified under the circumstances
- Forced confession – Threats toward a suspect or a suspect’s family or acquaintances, or using torture practices like deprivation of food, water, or sleep
- Sexual assault or harassment – Rape and unwanted sexual contact
- Racial profiling – Targeting an individual for a criminal charge based on their race, national origin, or color
- Strip searches – When such searches are conducted to humiliate or embarrass a suspect, or as a form of sexual assault
- Blackmail or coercion – Involving the use of threats to obtain false testimony
Causes of Police Brutality in Erie
Although we expect the police to discharge their duties in a professional, appropriate, and reasonable manner, officers too often engage in misconduct or other unlawful behavior. This includes unnecessary violence and brutality against the citizens they are sworn to serve. Many factors contribute to police officers engaging in brutality and misconduct, including:
- Lack of sufficient training for police officers, including training on the limits of police authority, proper use of force, or use of de-escalation techniques
- Inadequate department policies regarding searches and seizures, use of force, detention of suspects, or proper supervision of detainees
- Overt racism or bigotry, or institutional racism or implicit bias, which can lead to disproportionate criminal enforcement against certain protected groups, or the use of force or violence against individuals from such groups
- Officers intentionally acting outside the law in the belief that the justice system improperly impedes law enforcement efforts or does not sufficiently punish criminals
- Inadequate internal investigation or disciplinary procedures to respond to complaints of police misconduct or incidents of officer misconduct or brutality
- Officers feeling intimidated by co-workers from reporting incidents of misconduct or from intervening when fellow officers engage in misconduct or brutality
- Officers “closing ranks” in response to suspected misconduct, including failing to report incidents of misconduct or actively working to cover up evidence of misconduct
Demanding Compensation in a Police Brutality Claim
Police brutality can take a substantial toll on your health, your well-being, and your finances. If you have been the victim of police brutality or misconduct, you may be entitled to recover compensation for losses you have incurred, including the physical or emotional harm you have suffered. Types of compensation you may be able to recover in an Erie police brutality claim include:
- Costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation of physical injuries, including emergency medical care, surgeries and other procedures, prescriptions, and physical therapy.
- Long-term care expenses to help treat or care for any long-term or permanent disabilities you suffer because of injuries inflicted by police brutality or misconduct.
- Loss of income or earning capacity, if injuries or disabilities render you physically unable to work, or if a false arrest or malicious prosecution causes the loss of your job or employment opportunities.
- Financial recovery for emotional distress that was inflicted by the egregious or outrageous conduct of the police officers, whether it was committed intentionally or recklessly. You may also be entitled to recover compensation for the costs of mental health therapy to treat emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life due to permanent injuries that affect your daily living.
What to Do If You Were the Victim of Police Brutality in Erie
Being a victim of police brutality is traumatizing. It can be difficult to know what to do next. However, you can take steps to protect your rights and begin the process of pursuing your claim. Those steps include:
- Do not physically resist an arrest – Even if you know you are being wrongfully arrested for a crime you did not commit, any effort to resist arrest itself constitutes a separate criminal offense that may negatively impact your police brutality or misconduct claim.
- Try to document the scene where the police misconduct occurred – This can include obtaining the names of any bystanders or cellphone footage recording your interactions with police.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible – Ask to see a doctor at the jail, if necessary. Photograph any visible injuries. Follow all treatment instructions that you receive.
- Do not discuss your case on social media – Avoid discussing the incident or your legal claim on social media, as any information you post could potentially be used against you.
Speak with an Erie police brutality lawyer as soon as possible to review your rights and learn what steps to take next.
Talk to a Police Brutality Lawyer in Erie Today
If you have been injured and suffered losses after being the victim of law enforcement misconduct, contact Erie police brutality lawyer Brian J. Zeiger for a free initial case review. Don’t wait to learn more about your rights and the compensation you may be entitled to recover. Let The Zeiger Firm demand justice for you.