Friday, April 19, 2024

How Do You Sue A Police Department

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What Is It Considered A Police Beating

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A police beating is when an officer causes unreasonable serious injury and harm to a person. Officers are legally permitted to physically assault or beat a person suspected of a crime. They can only use reasonable measures to apprehend or restrain a person.

It does not matter whether the person committed a criminal act or not. Even criminals have the right to be properly restrained and apprehended without suffering a serious injury, especially if they are cooperative with the officers.

Certainly, police officers can and should defend themselves against aggressive people. The issue is when they assault or beat a person who is restrained, helpless, or not even fighting back. Beatings often occur in police cars or on the roadside.

Civil Lawsuit Not A Criminal Case

A “tort” is a legal term for a civil wrong that resulted in some kind of injury to the plaintiff. Many civil claims against police officers involve the torts of assault and battery. Occasionally, these claims involve the tort of negligence. Generally, these claims will be evaluated under a state’s tort claims act.

Most lawsuits against police officers involve the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Referred to as a Section 1983 claim, this lawsuit alleges that the defendant, “under color of law,” violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. The use of excessive force constitutes a valid claim under section 1983 because it violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against “unreasonable seizures.”

Shootings Of Innocent And Unarmed People

Police shootings of innocent and unarmed people are a serious problem. An officer should not shoot a person who is not in the commission of a crime. Nor should the police fire a gun at someone unless the person poses an immediate risk of injury or death to others.

Shooting a firearm at a criminal perpetrator or suspect should always be the last option. Officers are trained to use less deadly measures first and only shoot if the situation is urgent. Many police shooting victims are unarmed and pose no danger to anyone. Others are mentally ill and proper communication will usually end any potential threat without a shooting.

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What Are The Possible Benefits Of Taking Legal Action Against The Police

Suing the police can be scary, but it comes with benefits if you win. For instance, here are some of the damages you will be compensated for depending on the type of case:

Damages Case
Economic damages If you successfully prove misconduct, you will get economic damages. These can make up for any financial loss including the loss of current or future income as well as the cost of all medical expenses .
General damages If you experienced a loss for which a calculated cost cannot be easily obtained, you will be awarded general damages. This can include emotional or mental distress, or a significant reduction of enjoyment in life.
Punitive damages You will be awarded punitive damages as a form of punishment to the defendant, and as a way of preventing other police officers from engaging in similar behavior.

Can You Sue The Police For False Arrest

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Suing the police for false arrest is the allegation that the police acted without legal authority, or went beyond the power granted to them by their position as police officers. An officer who acted to arrest someone based on information they thought was true and reasonable, but was actually false, will not be guilty of false arrest.

On the other hand, if a police officer arrests a person based on their personal feelings or because that person insulted them, you can file police false arrest charges. Insulting a police officer is not a crime, so arresting someone for doing so is illegal.

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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.

Sexual Assaults And Rape

Police sexual assaults and rape are typically unreported. Victims are afraid to report the assaults for fear of retribution against them.

In the United States, police officers were criminally charged with more than 400 rapes in the decade between 2005 and 2015. In Michigan alone, there were 11 charges of forcible rape by officers during that period. Other sex assaults include fondling, forcible sodomy, indecent exposure, and sexual assaults with objects. Illegal strip searches are a form of sexual assault.

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Statutes Of Limitations For Lawsuits Against Police Officers

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.

Your Claims Against A Municipality

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You may be able to recover from the local governing body â typically, a city â that employed the police officer. These are called Monell claims. To have a Monell claim, you must be able to show that a city policy or custom is the âmoving force” behind the use of excessive force. That can happen if the use of force results from:

  • A formal regulation or policy statement
  • An informal custom amounting to a widespread and essentially authorized practice
  • The ratification by a final policymaker of the decision
  • The failure to adequately train or supervise employees if that failure results from deliberate indifference to the injuries it may cause

In simple terms, a city may be liable if you can show that its policy or custom actually caused the police officer to use excessive force. This also is hard to do.

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The Officer’s Defense: Qualified Immunity

But it is not that simple. The major obstacle to recovery under section 1983 â and an enormous obstacle it is â is the doctrine of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity, which was established by the Supreme Court in 1967, is a defense that protects police officers from personal liability unless they violate âclearly established” statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.

Courts have construed this defense broadly. So broadly, in fact, that you essentially have to show that either the Supreme Court or the United States Court of Appeals for the federal district in which you are located has ruled in the victim’s factor in a case just like yours. Similar isn’t enough. It’s got to be virtually the same.

That is really hard to do. In fact, a Reuters investigative study revealed that the qualified immunity defense barred recovery in most section 1983 claims. So even if you can make out your section 1983 claim, you have a tough fight in front of you if you choose to sue a police officer. But while qualified immunity makes a section 1983 claim hard to win, it’s not impossible. That is why it’s important to speak to an experienced civil rights attorney to discuss whether you have a legitimate case.

Illegal Search And Seizure

Unlawful search and seizure is another type of police misconduct. Illegal search and seizure occur when law enforcement conducts a search of a persons home, property, or person without a valid reason. Depending on the circumstances, law enforcement typically needs probable cause to perform a search, and police typically need a warrant as well. If an officer does not adhere to these laws, then they have committed police misconduct.

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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.

Can You Sue The Police For Misconduct


While a large majority of Canadas police do an excellent job of protecting us from crime and threats, there are some exceptions to this rule. Across Canada and Ontario, there has been an increasing number of reports over the last few years of police officers acting inappropriately or unreasonably with the general public.

Given the authority of the police, it is understandable that many victims of police misconduct feel they are helpless and unable to seek retribution against law enforcement officers. However, police officers are just as accountable to the law as the public and must follow strict regulations in their profession.

In this post, we will be explaining what Canadians and Ontarians can do if they believe they or someone close to them has been a victim of police misconduct.

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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.

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Complaints Filed Prior To October 19 2009

Complaints filed prior to October 19, 2009 were made to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. The Commission will continue to deal with these complaints until they are concluded. Although current complaints will be made to the OIPRD, if you wish to file a complaint for events occurring before October 19, 2009, you must file with the Commission or with the chief of police of the police service involved. If you file with the Commission, it will forward your complaint to the chief of police of the police service involved for review and investigation.

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How To Sue The Saps

The police and the countrys security services are there to protect us. For the most part, they do a commendable job, despite the many challenges they face.

However, members of the South African Police Service sometimes act wrongly. This can have devastating consequences for those who get caught up police-related incidents.

Laying A Criminal Charge

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Second, if you believe a police officer has committed a criminal offence, you can lay a criminal charge against the officer. To lay a criminal charge, you need to meet with a justice of the peace, and swear on oath that a crime has been committed and explain the details of the event. Depending on the type of criminal offence in question, there may be a time-limit for when charges can be laid. You should consult a lawyer for assistance.

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Filing The Police Lawsuit

If you are interested in suing a police department, you must act quickly. An investigation must be conducted. Evidence must be preserved. Witnesses must be interviewed. Your rights must be protected. It is advisable to immediately consult an attorney. Many legal steps must be taken promptly when suing a police department.

  • Notice of Claim: For cases against a municipality such as the City of New York you will be required to file a Notice of Claim within ninety days of the occurrence. For Federal claims, you must file a claim in writing within two years after the tort, accident or injury.
  • 50-h Hearing: For cases against a municipality such as the City of New York you will be required to attend a municipal hearing.
  • Summons & Complaint: The next step after filing a Notice of Claim and attending a municipal hearing is to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit is commenced by filing a Summons & Complaint. The Summons gives the defendant notice that they are being sued. The Complaint sets forth the allegations being alleged. Typically the lawsuit must be filed within one year and ninety days of the occurrence.
  • Defendants Answer: The attorneys for the defendant will put in an Answer whereby they admit or deny the allegations in the Complaint. The defendant will also request a Bill of Particulars.
  • Trial: Once all this is done, we are ready to try this case.

Democrats And Younger Republicans Back Ending Qualified Immunity

Among Republicans, there are sizable divides by age when it comes to whether civilians should be able to sue the police: 61% of Republicans ages 18 to 29 say civilians need to have the power to sue police officers in order to hold them accountable, compared with about half of those 30 to 64 and just 31% of those 65 and older.

While at least three-quarters of Democrats in all age groups say that civilians should be able to sue the police, younger Democrats are more likely to say this: 87% of Democrats ages 18 to 29 say civilians need the power to sue the police, while slightly fewer Democrats 65 and older say the same .

Eight-in-ten or more white , Black and Hispanic Democrats say that civilians should have the power to sue police. White Democrats are much more likely than white Republicans to say this .

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Speak With A Cop Accountability Lawyer

It is important to remember that when you sue a police department, theres a good chance that your case will be settled. The attorneys at Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP have extensive experience negotiating settlements in both police misconduct cases and they will work vigorously to resolve your case.

If you are considering suing a police department, you should immediately contact the skilled and experienced New York City Police Brutality attorneys at Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP.

The New York City Police Brutality attorneys at Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP are committed to holding the police accountable and will not hesitate to sue a police department. Our firms motto is Dont Be A Victim Twice. If you are considering suing a police department, call to schedule a confidential consultation. The call is free. The consultation is free. You dont pay us unless we are successful. Thats our Our Fee Guarantee No Fee Unless Successful. We are the cop accountability law firm. We will sue police departments and hold them accountable!

The Officer Deprived You Of Your Constitutional Rights

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The second element is that the police officer’s actions deprived you of rights, privileges, or immunities guaranteed under federal law or the United States Constitution. In an excessive force case, the focus typically is, as noted above, on your Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures . If the police use excessive force, they violate your constitutional rights.

If you can prove these elements, you have a section 1983 claim. And if the police acted maliciously or with reckless indifference to your rights, you could theoretically recover punitive damages .

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What Are My Chances Of Success What Damages Might I Be Awarded

A lawsuit against the police is not always an easy one to win. Some police departments lack transparency and might make it difficult to gather evidence about past conduct of the officer you are suing. At the same time, it is relatively easy for the police to find and use evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the plaintiff against them.

In order to be successful in a lawsuit against the police, it is important that you have taken to protect your rights in court. First, save any evidence of police misconduct. This might include photographs or video, eyewitness testimony, or medical records if you suffered physical injuries.

If you are successful in a lawsuit against the police and prevail at trial the available damages depend on the circumstances of the case:

  • Economic Damages: if the court found that the police were guilty of misconduct, the plaintiff might be awarded economic damages to compensate for financial losses. Economic damages might include lost income, loss of future income, medical expenses, future medical care.
  • Non-Economic or General Damages: non-economic damages compensate the plaintiff for intangible losses or those that do not come with an easily calculated cost. These damages include pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of consortium.
  • Punitive Damages:punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their misconduct. It is intended to deter the officer from engaging in the behavior again.

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