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How To Sue A Police Officer/ Police Department

How To Sue A Police Officer

If you have had an encounter with a police officer and believe your rights were violated, there are a few things you need to do to build a strong foundation for your case.

First, you need to save all evidence that could help you prove what transpired during the incident. Photographs and video recordings can be powerful pieces of evidence in this context.

Once you have collected the evidence, speak to witnesses who were present during the incident, and convince a few of them to come out and help you prove your case against the police officer. A few witnesses who were present at the time of the incident may remember what happened and will play a critical role in strengthening your case.

Finally, hire an experienced civil rights attorney who assesses your case and advise you accordingly. The attorney will also evaluate your evidence and ensure it is properly preserved, and all witnesses are interviewed. The attorney will do everything to ensure your rights are protected and a complaint is filed on time.

Who Can File A Police Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Although police officers can face criminal penalties for unlawfully killing someone, they are rarely charged or prosecuted. However, families or victims are often successful in a civil wrongful death lawsuit against officers and department.

Recently Jennifer Damico filed a wrongful death and police misconduct lawsuit on behalf of the family of an unarmed man who died while restrained facedown in police custody.

When someone has died from a police assault or shooting, their surviving family members can file a civil wrongful death lawsuit. These cases demand compensation for the pain and suffering of the decedent before death and for the loss of companionship by the family members. There is no limit to these amounts.

Financial losses, like lost income and funeral expenses, can also be awarded to the family. If the decedent supported a family, those damages are recoverable in the suit.

Modern Systemic Police Racism

Modernly, even all black-run city and state police are accused of being systemically racist. No studies exist with evidence showing this to be accurate among the general public. But it is conceded by most experts that the officers mood or temperament and aggressive policy enforcement directivesseem to be the reason for most excessive use of force and homicide cases against officers.

For example, New York officers were told to enforce regulations against selling single cigarettes in public places aggressively. After all, the mayor and city council reasoned, Eric Garner, a poor African American, was not paying his sales taxes. NYPD officers approached Garner on July 17 on suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps.

After Garner told the police that he was tired of being harassed and that he was not selling cigarettes, the officers attempted to arrest Garner. . . Garner repeated I cant breathe. 11 times while lying face down on the sidewalk . . lost consciousness, . . lying on the sidewalk . . seven minutes . . .pronounced dead at an area hospital approximately one hour later.Wikipedia

This failure to pay a cigarette tax case can be traced to the modern news media allegation accepted as truth by most, that all police forces are systemically racist. This is also where the biased presss famous slogan, I cant breathe in the recent George Floyd case , originated.

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Civil Rights Act Section 1983

When an individual has been the victim of a violation of their civil rights, they may be able to file a lawsuit against the police under the Civil Rights Act of 1871. This is done primarily under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which is generally referred to as a Section 1983 claim. A Section 1983 claim is a civil suit by a member of the public against the police department or government agency that violated the individuals rights. Generally, a successful Section 1983 claim requires the deprivation of an individuals civil rights, by a government official, acting under the supposed power of the law.

What Types Of Damages Can I Seek When I Sue The Police

Christian Meehan, Wilson Borough

If you are successful in your lawsuit against the police, you could be awarded the following types of damages:

  • Actual damages: The value of the medical bills, lost wages, and any other calculable expense you incurred.
  • Punitive damages: Extra money thats meant to punish the police for their wrongdoing.
  • Civil Rights damages: This is money thats specifically set aside for any violations of civil rights.

No matter the offense, suing the police or the police department is no easy task. Thats why you need the help of an experienced civil rights attorney on your side. Jacqui Fords office today.

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Get A Top Michigan Police Misconduct Lawyer

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We have earned these awards for our achievements on behalf of our clients since 1969.

We will put the same hard work into your case that we have done for injury victims for the past 50 years.

What Are Civil Actions Against The Police

Civil actions against the police are claims for compensation made through the judicial system.

The use of tort law allows citizens who have been subject to the abuse of the polices extensive powers to sue the police.

These civil claims are made by people who have been wronged by the police in some way, for example:

When suing the police, victims of police misconduct instruct solicitors, such as Donoghue Solicitors, to investigate their civil claims. They will usually seek compensation and a contribution towards their legal costs.

Depending on the circumstances the police may also apologise for their actions, destroy DNA and personal data, correct records on the Police National Computer etc.

Civil actions against the police are different from complaints against the police where the aim is for the police to effectively conduct internal disciplinary matters.

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What Police Department Are You Suing

Another thing one has to consider is what department you are really going after. Some cities have their own police departments because their city budget hires and fires the department within their own city policies. However, many cities contract with the County Sheriffs department. Therefore, if the police department you are considering to sue is one of these, you will actually be suing the County Sheriffs department.

Statutes Of Limitations For Lawsuits Against Police Officers

Police Lieutenant suing Detroit Police Department

Section 1983 does not include a specific statute of limitations, which is the maximum amount of time that an injured party in a dispute has to take legal action. Therefore, the state where a case occurs will typically use its own statute of limitations for tort cases involving negligent actions and wrongful death. The majority of these cases carry a statute of limitations of between two and seven years. A lawyer who specializes in police brutality cases can assist you if you are involved in such an incident.

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Examples Of Michigan Police Misconduct Jury Verdicts & Settlements

  • $36,630,000 jury verdict for a Genesee County Jail inmate who was severely beaten by deputies after a DWI arrest.
  • $6,800,000 jury verdict for a man shot to death by a Marine City police officer.
  • $3,000,000 wrongful death settlement for a police shooting incident in Kalamazoo County.
  • $1,100,000 settlement for a woman who sued Kalamazoo County deputies for excessive force that caused physical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • $725,000 settlement for a mentally ill man shot to death by Saginaw police.

Can You Sue The Police Department In Pennsylvania

The police are supposed to protect and serve, but, unfortunately, there are some officers who abuse their authority. For those who have been assaulted by the police or denied their rights, the feelings of frustration and powerlessness can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you have rights, and you can fight back.

If youve been harmed in any way by the police, you should talk to a civil rights attorney as soon as possible. Pennsylvania civil rights attorney Lauren Wimmer has the knowledge and experience you need to get the justice you deserve. If you need someone on your side who will fight for your rights, call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation today.

Sovereign Immunity and Civil Liability

Generally speaking, the police are immune from various types of claims. This means that you cannot sue the police department in many situations. For example, if you are injured in a car accident while riding in a police cruiser, you likely cannot sue the police department, even if the driver caused the accident through their own negligence.

Police Brutality

Many claims against the police involve the use of excessive force. However, the police are authorized to use whatever force is necessary in the following situations:

  • In order to make an arrest
  • In order to defend themselves
  • In order to defend someone else

False Arrest

What Your Claim May Be Worth

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Wide Racial Partisan Gaps In Views Of Police Performance

Americans are divided along partisan and racial lines in their evaluations of police. Across four measures of police performance, white adults are consistently more positive about the performance of police around the country than Black adults, and Republicans are much more positive than Democrats. While the partisan divide in positive evaluations of the police on most of these dimensions is nearly as wide among whites as it is overall, Black Democrats are more likely than their white counterparts to say that the police perform poorly.

Overall, a majority of Americans say that police around the country are doing an excellent or good job of protecting people from crimes a view held by 78% of Republicans and Republican leaners but 43% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. Two-thirds of white adults say the police are doing a good or excellent job of protecting people, while just 28% of Black adults say the same. Half of Hispanic adults say police do an excellent or good job of protecting people.

There are racial and ethnic divides among Democrats in these views: While just 27% of Black Democrats say police do an excellent or good job protecting people from crime , about half of white Democrats and 42% of Hispanic Democrats say the same.

Hispanic Democrats are more positive in their evaluations of police performance in these domains than both white and Black Democrats still, majorities rate police performance in these areas as only fair or poor.

Excessive Force Or Assault Including The Use Of Taser Guns

LAPD Officers Turn Tables, Sue City Over Traffic Ticket Quotas: LAist

Police have been allowed to carry Taser guns since 2003. A huge amount of responsibility comes with carrying weapons. The Police must use the correct procedure when using them and only use them when absolutely necessary.

When faced with a serious threat of violence, the Police are allowed to use their Tasers if they consider it to be reasonable and proportionate to the threat that they face. However, we have to place a lot of trust in their judgement of what is deemed a serious threat and how much force is reasonable.

It can be a frightening experience getting arrested or being restrained, but if a weapon is used, it can be terrifying, particularly if the weapon is being used inappropriately or without just cause. During peaceful protests, there have been many reports of people being injured by the use of a Taser on them, even when they have already been arrested and put in handcuffs.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of Taser misuse which has resulted in an injury, we have highly experienced personal injury solicitors that specialise in police negligence claims and can help you to get the police negligence compensation you deserve.

Tasers can have both physical and psychological effects that often are very serious, such as :

  • Heart attack particularly if someone already has an existing heart condition.
  • Emotional trauma.
  • Respiratory problems.

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What Type Of Evidence Will I Need To Prove My Section 1983 Claim

The best type of evidence that you can present to prove your case often includes video footage and photographs of the government officials negligent act. The one similarity among many recent high-profile cases is video footage of the negligent act. Videos often come from bystanders in the right place at the right time, ready to document the encounters.

Take the example of 37-year-old Abdul Salaam, who filed a civil lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department for injuries he suffered at the hands of several police officers. Once the officers had approached Salaams car, as Salaam was rolling down his window, they yanked him out. The officers then dragged him across the ground while his son watched, traumatized, from the car. Salaam suffered facial, neck, and shoulder injuries. Several neighbors on the street took footage of the events with their cellphones. At trial, Salaams attorney told the jury that they would see the videos, and asked them to pay close attention. The jury came back with a verdict of $70,000 for Salaam. Video footage can go a long way toward proving your case before a jury.

Wrongful Arrest And False Imprisonment

Wrongful arrest and false imprisonment can be claimed when your liberty is restrained without lawful justification for any period of time. Examples include where you have been:

  • Wrongfully or unlawfully arrested.
  • Unjustifiably detained beyond the legal investigative period.
  • Arrested for breaching bail conditions which should have been removed.
  • Held in prison beyond the length of your sentence.

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Can I Sue The Police For Excessive Force

By Steven J. Ellison, Esq. | Reviewed by Joseph Fawbush, Esq. | Last updated October 19, 2021

Yes, but you face an uphill battle. You can sue the police officers themselves who used excessive force. In some situations, you can sue the law enforcement officers’ supervisor for their subordinate’s conduct. And you also may be able to bring a claim against the municipality itself if it has a policy or custom that caused the use of excessive force. But civil rights cases involving police brutality or other police misconduct can be very complicated and hard to win.

How Qualified Immunity Impacts The Case

Teen’s family plans to sue Stockton Police Department in excessive force claim

Lawsuits against police officers and police departments are notoriously difficult, which is why choosing an attorney experienced in suing police departments is critical.

One factor that makes these lawsuits so difficult is qualified immunity. While qualified immunity technically applies to any government official, it is overwhelmingly applied to police officers.

Qualified immunity shields police officers from liability and personal responsibility unless there is a clearly established law stating their misconduct is not protected under the law.

Unfortunately, this means that unless a previous court stated that the actions the police officer took were illegal, then the officer is protected under qualified immunity.

This does not mean, however, that a person cannot continue in a lawsuit against the police department. Rather, qualified immunity simply shields the offending officer from personal liability, meaning that a person cannot sue them directly.

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About The Civil Rights Division

We protect your rights through:


We sue or prosecute individuals and organizations who violate civil rights laws.

You can help us do this work by reporting a possible civil rights violation through our online form.


We help the entire federal government work together to enforce these laws.

Our teams work with other agencies to promote a consistent approach to civil rights laws.

Personal Injury Damages Against Police

If you were injured by a police officers misconduct, you might be able to claim damages from the department. These damages could include:

  • Medical expenses for doctor or hospital visits, assistive devices, diagnostics, therapies, or other treatments related to the injury
  • Recovered costs for lost wages if you missed time from work
  • Punitive damages if the behavior was malicious or with reckless disregard for your well-being

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Police Misconduct And Civil Rights Claims In Texas

Created by FindLaws team of legal writers and editors| Last updated May 15, 2019

You may have grounds to file a civil rights lawsuit if the police mistreat you. The most common form of police misconduct is the use of excessive force, sometimes called police brutality. For instance, in one Texas case a woman alleged that a sheriffs deputy slammed her into a concrete bench while booking her on charges.

The main obstacle plaintiffs face in bringing such lawsuits is that police officers have a certain degree of immunity, which ensures that theyre not unreasonably hampered in performing their difficult job. Generally speaking, police officers will be immune from suit unless they violate someones clearly established rights. The same immunity rules apply to lawsuits against sheriffs deputies, correctional officers, and others in law enforcement.

How To Sue The Police Department In California

N.J. cop shot in head on

Police agencies will almost always back the police officer who beat you, clubbed you, tased you, shot you, pepper-sprayed you, falsely arrested you, submitted false police reports to get you criminally prosecuted, or otherwise abused you. As a practical matter, the police really have to lie, cheat and obtain false convictions of their victims that is, if they like their jobs and want to keep them They will destroy evidence, conceal evidence, fabricate evidence, author false police reports, procure false and malicious criminal prosecutions, and suborn perjury. They will do anything that will tend to exonerate the officer who victimized you.

Also, because of greater concerns about their civil / administrative liability, police agencies automatically take the defensive civil position, and decide to investigate in a manner only acknowledging their justification for their officers actions, and not any real effort to seek the truth. They gather evidence, under the bogus claim of a crime scene investigations. They unlawfully and knowingly conspire, to suppress evidence favorable to the civilian, and to neither seek nor give credit to, any evidence that implicates them.






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