Our Michigan police abuse lawyers represent innocent victims who have been harmed by police misconduct. Police officers are confronted with potentially deadly situations every day on the job, but they are trained to treat the public with respect and dignity and to only use the amount of force necessary to protect themselves and the public. However, there are times when the officer goes way above and beyond the reasonable force needed to detain or arrest a criminal suspect. This type of force can be considered "excessive force" and could give rise to a police shooting lawsuit.
How Much Force is Considered "Excessive Force" by a Police Officer?
The amount of force that is considered "reasonable" is determined on a case by case basis. The facts of every case and every police beating are completely different. Some incidents may be considered justified based upon the circumstances while others may be considered to involve "excessive force."
In most states, an arresting officer is allowed to use more force to arrest a resisting suspect than if the suspect were cooperative. An officer can generally use deadly force if threatened with death or great bodily harm. Many cases hinge on the police officers actual intentions at the time of the incident. The intent of the officer can often be determined by the events giving rise to the beating and witness statements given during the post-incident investigation.
Nowadays, many police beatings are captured on video. Police cars now have video cameras that tape these incidents and private citizens often use their cell phone cameras to capture video of a police beating or shooting. These videos provide powerful evidence to determine whether the force was justified or constitutes the use of excessive force.
In most states, a jury determines whether an officer used more force than was necessary to make an arrest after the evidence has been presented at a civil trial. The jury is instructed on the law and must consider what a reasonable person with the officer’s knowledge would have deemed necessary under the circumstances. The jury can determine if the shooting was justified or was due to a use of excessive force. If the force used was not legally justified, the jury can award money damages to the victim and family.
What are Examples of Police Abuse and Misconduct Cases?
There are several types of civil police abuse and misconduct cases that are filed against police officers and their departments at the courthouse. These include:
- Shooting an unarmed or non-threatening victim
- Tasering an unarmed or non-threatening victim
- Beating a person who is not resisting arrest
- Unnecessary physical violence or force, like a chokehold or punch
- Using equipment, like a flashlight, to injure a victim
- Assault and battery
- Unlawful arrests
- Unlawful searches and seizures
- Wrongful death
What is Needed to File a Police Abuse Lawsuit?
Whenever there is a police beating or shooting, there is typically and extensive investigation by the police department to gather all evidence surrounding the incident. Many times, an independent investigation is done by an outside police agency or even the United States Department of Justice to determine if the force used by the officer was justified. These outside investigations are performed to prevent bias in the findings by the department that employed the offending police officer.
To file a lawsuit, there must be evidence to show that the force used was excessive and not justified to make an arrest or to protect the public. In many cases, the victim may be completely unarmed at the time of the assault. In other cases, the victim was simply not a danger to the officer or the general public.
What are the Laws for Filing a Police Misconduct Case?
Police misconduct lawsuits allege that the police officer violated the victim's constitutional rights and state rights by using unreasonable force to cause an arrest. Most lawsuits allege a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which is an unlawful seizure of the body. Unlawful seizures can include a shooting or even a tasering of a victim.
Victims can also sue the police officer and police department under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, which is a civil action for the deprivation of constitutional rights. This section provides:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.
Under Section 1983, a victim can sue the police officer, the policing agency, and often the city and county government responsible for employing the officer and operating the police department. Other lawsuit allegations can include gross negligence, assault and battery, and other state laws against the use of deadly force in a non life threatening situation.
Are there Laws that Protect Police Officers and Other Entities in Abuse Cases?
Yes. There are many laws that provide "immunity" to police officers and governmental agencies in excessive force lawsuits. States are immune from lawsuits by private citizens in federal court under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, many states have laws that prevent lawsuits against municipalities. A legal analysis of the facts surrounding the shooting and the state's individual laws is necessary to determine whether a lawsuit can be filed for civil damages.
What is the Compensation for a Police Abuse Lawsuit?
When the law permits a lawsuit to go forward, there may be money compensation available to the shooting victim. Damages can include:
- Pain & Suffering (at the time of the shooting and going into the future)
- Fright & Shock
- Psychological Injuries (like PTSD & depression)
- Scars & Permanent Disfigurements
- Disability from Work & Activities
- Loss of Income & Wages (past, present, & future)
- Bystander Claims (witnessing a family member injured in an accident)
- Death (filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit)
Certain states and some federal laws also allow punitive damages and the award of attorney fees if the jury determines that the police officer or police department violated the civil rights of the victim.
Who are the Best Rated Police Abuse Lawsuit Lawyers?
Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. and our lawyers have won the top awards in the legal profession, including:
- U.S. News & World Report Best Law Firms
- "Best Michigan Personal Injury Attorney" by American Lawyer Academy
- Named Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Michigan
- Honored as "Super Lawyers"
- Top Martindale-Hubbell Rating (AV) for Skill & Integrity
- Member of Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Our No Fee Promise on Police Abuse Cases
Don't be concerned about the money you might need to hire a lawyer. You can afford to have the best law firm on your side without paying a penny out of your pocket. It literally costs nothing to get started and if yourcase is unsuccessful for any reason, you owe us nothing. We promise you in writing:
- No money to hire us or get started on your case
- We pay all case costs and expenses from start to finish
- You pay no legal fees whatsoever unless you receive a settlement
- Phone calls to our office are always free, forever.
Start Your Police Abuse Claim Today
There are three ways to get started on your case today to get the settlement you deserve. You can:
- Submit the Free Case Review Box on this page. An attorney will contact you shortly.
- Chat with our online live operator who will provide your information to our law firm
- Call (888) 797-8787 any time of day to speak with an injury lawyer about your case.
Warning: There are strict time deadlines for filing police abuse lawsuits. Call us today to learn more about the excessive force laws.