Every year, an estimated 55,000 people are injured or killed by police officers across the United States. While some of these injuries or deaths are the result of justifiable uses of force, in many cases they are the result of police misconduct. But what exactly is police misconduct, and how can law enforcement be held responsible for injuries they inflict as a result of that misconduct?
What is Police Misconduct?
In legal terms, “police misconduct” (also known as police brutality) refers to any situation where a police officer, acting in their official capacity as agents of the law, abuses their authority, resulting in otherwise avoidable injury or death. While law enforcement has the authority to use force when the situation demands it, police have a responsibility to avoid causing unnecessary harm. This means, for example, that police should not use excessive force that is inappropriate to a given situation, and should avoid causing harm to innocent bystanders whenever possible.
How Can People Be Injured By Police Misconduct?
There are a number of ways that people can be harmed by the police. Some of the most common types of misconduct by law enforcement include:
- Use of excessive force when capturing or arresting a suspect
- False or wrongful arrest of an innocent person
- Engaging in an unlawful search or seizure of a person’s property
- Losing control of a police dog, resulting in a dog bite
- Intentionally injuring a suspect in custody
- Sexually assaulting or abusing a suspect in custody
- Denying a suspect access to food, water, or necessary medication
- Denying a suspect medical attention for injuries sustained before or during arrest
Can You Sue The Police If You Are the Victim of Misconduct?
The short answer is yes, you can sue the police if you have been injured as a result of police misconduct. However, this comes with a significant qualification: the injury must have been the result of misconduct by an agent of law enforcement, while they were acting as officers of the law. This means that the officer must have acted in some way that goes beyond what is normally allowed in a given situation, such that they cannot reasonably have been acting in accordance with their duties as a police officer.
What Should You Do if You Are a Victim of Police Misconduct?
If you or someone you love has been injured due to a police officer’s improper conduct, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer with experience handling police misconduct cases can advise you on your case, and help you figure out the best next steps for you and your loved ones. The sooner you call, the sooner your lawyer can get to work on your case.
If you have been injured due to police misconduct, seeking the advice from an attorney experienced in personal injury law will help assure you get the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC assist clients in New York City and Long Island in collecting the damages they need to cope with being the victim of police misconduct. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York personal injury lawyers, call (888) LAW-8088 or fill out our contact form.