Police Brutality and Other Types of Police Misconduct
What is Police Misconduct
Police misconduct includes a wide range of unlawful or improper police activity arising out of the abuse of the power vested in the police force and resulting in injury, pain, suffering, loss of liberty and even loss of life. Federal and state laws protect citizens from abuse and other violations by government officials, including police officers. Typically, victims sue individual police officers and the local governments that employ them under State and Federal law. If you sue the police for misconduct and win, you may be awarded damages, or monetary compensation, as restitution for physical or emotional injuries and the violation of your civil rights. The court may also require the police officers and police department involved to pay punitive damages, which is meant as punishment for the misconduct. If you believe you are a victim of police misconduct anywhere in Central Florida, call our highly experienced Orlando police misconduct lawyers today! Time is of essence!
Types of Police Misconduct
The most common police misconduct cases involve claims of excessive force (also known as police brutality), false arrest and sexual abuse.
Excessive or unreasonable force (Police Brutality)
Victims of excessive force suffer serious injury or death as the result of police use of unreasonable force under the circumstances. There is no concrete definition of excessive force. The victim must show that the force used by an officer during an encounter or arrest was improper and excessive considering the all of the facts and the officer’s subjective knowledge of the situation.
You may have a claim for false arrest if your Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure was violated. A victim must show that the police did not have probable cause, or sufficient evidence to warrant an arrest. False arrest claims are very difficult to prove. If the police are able to establish that probable cause existed or that arguable probable cause existed, based on an officer’s subjective belief under the circumstances at the time of the arrest, most courts will not find a Fourth Amendment violation.
There have been several reported and prosecuted instances of police officer sexual abuse in Florida recently. Police work is particularly conducive to sexual misconduct because officers perform many of their duties largely absent of supervision, regularly encounter vulnerable civilians, and are susceptible to abusing their power. Sexual assault police brutality can happen in the form of rape on a dark street late at night during a traffic stop. It can also happen in a more subtle and coercive manner, as in a probation officer's car or in a parole officer's office. Victims of police sexual abuse are often targeted by officers as individuals lacking credibility due to a criminal record or state of intoxication. Victims experience associated guilt and fear the consequences of coming forward so many instances go unreported. Failure to immediately report the event and obtain proper medical evaluation or treatment may prevent the preservation of necessary evidence to establish a case.
What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Police Brutality Or Other Forms Of Police Misconduct
If you have had a confrontation with the police in which you believe there was inappropriate behavior and you were harmed as a result, there are several things you can do to build a strong foundation for your case:
- Contact an Experienced Police Misconduct Attorney: First, always immediately contact an experienced attorney. An experienced attorney will provide you with guidance on how to properly report the instance of abuse and help you understand what rights you may have to file a lawsuit against the police.
- Take pictures and track down relevant video footage: Preserve as much evidence as you can. Keep and store clothing or other objects that were damaged by police in the incident. Locate people who saw the incident to act as witnesses in your case. Take pictures of any physical injuries or damaged property and then continue to document the injuries in the days, weeks and months following the incident. Victims should also attempt to track down all relevant video footage in order to strengthen their case. Witnesses may have captured the event on a cell phone. Nearby buildings with surveillance cameras may have retrievable footage with the help of an attorney and subpoena.
- Write down all details related to the event and misconduct: In any police misconduct lawsuit, the burden will be on the victim to prove the improper police actions. If there was an arrest, the processing papers will establish police involvement. However, a victim’s testimony should prove police involvement even if there was no arrest. Any details or information which can identify the offending officer will significantly bolster the victim’s case. To that end, a victim should record the officer’s name, precinct, badge/shield number, patrol car number and any other information that could help identify the involved police officer. Memories fade so write down this information as soon as possible after the police misconduct.
- Seek medical and/or psychological attention: A victim of police brutality or other types of police misconduct must not forget to seek treatment for any injuries suffered as a result of the police misconduct. Injuries, whether physical or emotional, must be treated in order for the victim to properly begin the healing process. The victim’s attorney will ensure the civil lawsuit proceeds as necessary; the victim should focus on their recuperation. So long as the victim keeps records of all treatment, the injuries can be proven even after the physical wounds and emotional scarring have begun to heal.
- File a Grievance or Complaint: Victims of police misconduct should immediately pursue certain available administrative remedies with the advice and counsel of their attorney to properly establish their claim and initiate an investigation. For example, victims should report the incident to internal affairs division of the police department (also known as a citizens complaint). This prompts a separate agency to conduct a full investigation of the complaint.
Florida law requires a formal notice of claim be sent to appropriate parties and agencies six months prior to filing a lawsuit against the police. The notice of claim includes a basic description of the victim’s grievance in order to allow the jurisdiction to investigate. Victims should consult with an attorney soon after the incident of police misconduct in order to properly and timely file the notice of claim and preserve their right to sue.
Contact Our Orlando Police Misconduct Lawyer
If you believe that you are a victim of police brutality or any other form of police misconduct in Orlando or anywhere within the Central Florida area, including the cities or Orlando, Winter Park, Windermere and Kissimmee, please contact us right away. Our early intervention is key for the outcome of your case. Police brutality cases are very complex and frequently require specific knowledge and experience! We have handled many cases of police misconduct in the past! You can contact us 7 days a week at 407-500-0000 or fill out the online form located on this page and our police misconduct lawyer in Orlando will contact you shortly. We value your privacy and will keep your information confidential.