Q. What is considered to be police brutality?
A. Police brutality occurs when law enforcement officers use unnecessary or excessive force when dealing with a member of the public. Such force may include improper use of a stun gun or taser, unjustified shooting, police dog attacks, intentional assaults and related cover-ups, and more. In addition to unnecessary violence during a police encounter, brutality can also include false arrest, sexual assault, verbal abuse, abuse of prison inmates, or other misconduct.
Q. Who are the most common victims of police brutality?
A. While the media often focuses on racial minorities as victims of police brutality, the reality is that anyone can be a victim. Brutality happens to all races, genders, sexual orientations, ages, and more. Even children have been victims of police brutality. This goes to show that there does not have to be racial profiling or prejudice at work for brutality to occur.
Q. What type of case do I have if I am the victim of police brutality?
A. Like other types of personal injury cases, claims for police brutality are filed in civil court. You may file your claim in state court or in federal court under 42 U.S. Code § 1983,1 which provides relief for the violation of your civil rights.
Q. What if my loved one was killed by police or prison guards?
A. If you have tragically lost a loved one due to unlawful and unjustified force by police or prison guards, you have the legal right to recover by filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. Pennsylvania wrongful death2 laws allow a parent, child, or spouse of a deceased victim to recover for their losses.
Q. What should I do if I believe I have been a victim of police brutality?
A. Like other types of injury-related cases, there are certain steps that you should take to increase your chances of recovery in a legal claim. If possible, you should obtain the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the incident. Also, you should write down your version of events as soon as possible so you do not forget any important details. Next, take photos of any visible signs of injuries you sustained, such as contusions or lacerations. Make sure to undergo a full medical evaluation as soon as possible so a medical professional can officially document all injuries in your medical records. All of this can serve as evidence to help prove your police brutality claim.
Finally, you should always contact a Philadelphia attorney who has experience with police brutality and misconduct cases. Taking on a police officer or department in court is not a simple task, and it is important to be represented by a lawyer who understands the legal issues involved in this type of claim. If you or a loved one has been the victims of police brutality, please call The Zeiger Firm at 215-546-0340 for assistance today.