When police officers resort to using excessive force or engage in other types of police brutality in the course of their duties, it’s important to hold them accountable for their actions as well as for the losses sustained by those they hurt. At The Zeiger Firm, Pittsburgh police brutality lawyer Brian J. Zeiger aggressively pursues fair compensation and justice for clients who have suffered at the hands of law enforcement.
Our law firm is dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of those facing the criminal justice system. We know what it takes to demand accountability from police officers who violate the civil and constitutional rights of the very public they have been sworn to protect and serve.
If you have suffered harm due to the misconduct of law enforcement officers, reach out to The Zeiger Firm today for a free, confidential case evaluation with an experienced Pittsburgh police brutality lawyer. Learn more about your rights and options for seeking financial recovery for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, mental trauma, and more.
Common Types of Police Brutality and Misconduct in Pittsburgh
Examples of police brutality and misconduct cases our firm handles include:
- False or unlawful arrest, or the arrest of an innocent individual or a suspect with reckless disregard for the lack of sufficient probable cause
- False imprisonment, or the detention of a suspect without probable cause or for longer than permitted by regulation or law
- Excessive force, or the use of force disproportionate to the threat posed by a suspect or disproportionate to the level of force needed to subdue and arrest a suspect
- Deadly force, including the improper use of less-than-lethal force that leads to the infliction of fatal wounds or the use of unauthorized force with a substantial risk to cause serious bodily injury or death
- Police shooting, including the use of firearms on unarmed suspects
- Forced confession, including obtaining confessions through threats against the suspect or their family or through abuse or torture
- Sexual assault or harassment, including rape, unwanted sexual contact, trading sexual favors, or comments or statements of a harassing nature based on sex
- Racial profiling, which involves conducting law enforcement activities against individuals based on their race, color, or national origin
- Strip searches, which can be improperly conducted to embarrass, humiliate, or sexually abuse or harass a suspect or detainee
- Blackmail or coercion of a suspect or witness through threats against them, their family, or their friends, usually to obtain evidence or testimony (which may or may not prove truthful or reliable)
What Can You Recover in a Police Brutality Claim?
While police brutality and misconduct have a significant impact on the public’s trust in law enforcement in Pittsburgh, they also often result in lifelong consequences for the victims themselves. If you have been the victim of an incident of officer brutality or misconduct, you may suffer physical, emotional, and financial losses. The Zeiger Firm will work tirelessly to pursue compensation in your police brutality claim for:
- Medical expenses incurred to treat physical injuries, including emergency room treatment and hospitalization, surgeries, physical therapy, medications, and other bills and costs
- Loss of income, whether due to missing time from work while recovering from your injuries or losing employment or job opportunities due to police misconduct involving false arrest, false imprisonment, or wrongful prosecution and conviction
- Emotional distress, including for the expenses incurred by seeking mental health treatment for trauma and distress
- Permanent physical, cognitive, and emotional injuries you suffer because of police brutality and misconduct, which result in reduced quality of life or life expectancy
Tips for Protecting Your Rights in a Pittsburgh Police Brutality Case
If you have suffered from police brutality or misconduct in Pittsburgh, there are steps you can take to protect your legal rights and options for pursuing a claim for compensation. For example:
- Never resist an arrest. Resisting arrest can be charged as a separate criminal offense, even if you are proven innocent of the crime you were being arrested for. It can also justify the police using greater force against you to secure your arrest, which can negatively impact a later claim of police brutality or misconduct.
- Document the scene. Do your best to get the names of any bystanders or cellphone video footage from people who witnessed the incident.
- See a doctor or other medical provider as soon as possible. You need to make sure that any injuries you have suffered are promptly diagnosed and treated. Take photos of visible injuries. Also make sure to follow all the treatment instructions you are given.
- Keep copies of bills and invoices for expenses related to your recovery. You should also keep copies of pay stubs or income statements if you miss time from work or lose your job due to police misconduct.
- Do not discuss your case on social media. Anything you say on social media can both be used in a criminal case as well as in your civil claim.
Above all, speak with a Pittsburgh police brutality lawyer from The Zeiger Firm as soon as possible to discuss your options for pursuing the financial recovery you need and deserve.
How a Pittsburgh Police Brutality Attorney Can Help You
Police brutality and misconduct claims are some of the most difficult to pursue. This is because of the legal immunities and strong public trust that law enforcement enjoys. However, police officers and law enforcement agencies should be held responsible for their actions when they violate individuals’ rights. A knowledgeable Pittsburgh police brutality attorney from The Zeiger Firm can help with your case by:
- Investigating the incident of police brutality or misconduct to recover all available evidence that can be used to prove your claim
- Documenting the full extent of your injuries and losses, including both financial and intangible losses that you have suffered
- Identifying the officers and law enforcement agencies responsible for the harm you have suffered and who can be held liable to compensate you
- Ensuring that your legal claims are properly and timely filed according to notice deadlines and statutes of limitations under state and federal law
- Pursuing maximum compensation on your behalf either through settlement negotiations or by taking your case to court and advocating for your rights at trial
Evidence We May Use to Prove a Police Brutality Claim
If you choose to pursue a claim for police brutality or misconduct, you should remember that law enforcement officers and agencies are immune from lawsuits that may arise from the lawful and reasonable actions of police officers. However, officers are not entitled to immunity for intentional or reckless conduct that violates the civil and constitutional rights of civilians.
At The Zeiger Firm, we will look for evidence we can use to prove that you deserve financial compensation for the loss or violation of your rights. This may include:
- Witness statements and recorded cellphone video footage
- Police cruiser dashcam and officer bodycam footage
- Surveillance footage from police stations, interrogation rooms, or holding cells or jails
- Employment and disciplinary records of officers involved in the misconduct
- Police department reports such as arrest records and use-of-force reports
- Medical records from the treatment and rehabilitation of your injuries
- Photographs of any visible injuries you sustained
What Leads to Police Brutality in Pittsburgh?
It may seem unthinkable that police officers who have been sworn to uphold the law and serve the public would intentionally or recklessly engage in egregious or outrageous conduct that violates the rights of individuals. However, several factors can create conditions in police departments that lead to incidents of brutality and misconduct, including:
- Insufficient officer training, which results in officers not understanding the limits of police authority, the rights of civilians and suspects, or how and when to use force
- Impulsive decisions and errors of judgment made in high-adrenaline situations like suspect pursuits on foot, confronting potentially armed individuals, detaining an individual physically resisting arrest, or engaging in a high-speed vehicle chase
- Inadequate internal investigations and disciplinary measures in response to complaints of police brutality and misconduct, which can result in officers lacking any deterrent
- Officers who “close ranks” around fellow officers who engage in misconduct, including failing to report incidents of misconduct or covering up evidence of misconduct
- Officers feeling pressured or intimidated not to speak out about or intervene to stop incidents of police brutality or misconduct
- Officers who choose to act outside the law and police department procedures when they believe the system unnecessarily or unreasonably restricts law enforcement efforts or fails to appropriately punish criminals for their behavior
- Overt racism or bigotry, or innate bias or institutional racism, which can lead to racial profiling and other unreasonable and unlawful conduct
Talk to a Police Brutality Lawyer in Pittsburgh Now for Free
If you were harmed by law enforcement in Pittsburgh, contact police brutality lawyer Brian J. Zeiger at The Zeiger Firm today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case and discuss how we can help you pursue the financial compensation you need for your injuries and losses, as well as hold the police officers who mistreated you accountable for their actions.