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Police brutality has become an epidemic in the United States. Even amidst protests in all 50 states, far too many police officers have continued to use excessive and unwarranted force during peaceful demonstrations and simple traffic stops. However, there are various legal precedents that protect officers from liability that can make it difficult to file a lawsuit.
The personal injury attorneys at our firm have experience with these types of cases. If you were recently injured by an officer, a Toledo excessive force and police misconduct lawyer may be able to help you file suit for damages.
Although state and federal laws do not explicitly prohibit police officers from using excessive force, it is illegal for an officer to violate a citizen’s constitutional rights. According to 42 United States Code §1983, individuals can pursue civil litigation against anyone who violates the “rights, privileges, or immunities” guaranteed to someone else by the U.S. Constitution. However, this federal statute only applies to cases in which an officer’s excessive force violates federal protections offered to U.S. citizens.
Ohio Revised Code §2921.45 states that any interference with the civil rights guaranteed under state law is a class A misdemeanor offense. A local police brutality attorney could help you determine under which jurisdiction you may have grounds to file suit.
In a civil suit, the courts must determine whether an officer used “excessive” force given the specific circumstances of the case.
When determining if the use of excessive force was justified, the courts take into consideration whether you tried to resist arrest or the officer reasonably feared for their safety. Additionally, court officials may take into account the severity of the crime you were accused of committing.
In certain cases, it may be possible to file suit against a police officer who witnessed the excessive force and failed to intervene. To achieve a successful outcome in this kind of case, you would have to demonstrate that the officer in question had both a duty and a reasonable opportunity to stop the other person from violating your constitutional rights, and chose not to intervene.
The concept known as “qualified immunity” states that police officers can only be held liable for violating a “clearly established” constitutional right. Municipal authorities can only be sued for police misconduct if an official policy or unofficial pattern of behavior led to an instance of excessive force. A police misconduct lawyer in the area could clarify how these restrictions may impact recovery in a particular case.
In recent years, police brutality has become a much larger issue in the American political landscape. Decades of police misconduct have culminated in widespread protests following the death of George Floyd in 2020. Unfortunately, various legal protections can make it difficult to file suit against a police officer for excessive force.
Working with a qualified Toledo excessive force and police misconduct lawyer could help you achieve a positive outcome in your case. Call our office today to schedule an initial consultation.