For people who have interactions with the police in Colorado, it is important to understand the term “excessive force,” and the types of behavior police might engage in that are beyond their legal powers. This is complex area of the law, so it is important to hire an experienced attorney if you believe you have been a victim of police brutality due to their use of excessive force.
What is Excessive Force?
Police officers should only use the level of force needed to mitigate a situation, arrest a suspect or protect others or themselves from harm. The level of force an officer chooses should be specific to the situation. For example, it may be perfectly reasonable for an officer to shoot a suspect who is brandishing a weapon, but excessive if a suspect is shot for not complying with an order to clear a sidewalk or show identification. While people tend to think of the bigger cases covered in the news media that involve deaths at the hands of police when they think of police brutality, any injury that was a result of the use of excessive force is a violation of federal law, and you should pursue compensation for your injuries. Reporting these incidents also helps prevent future actions by the officer and alerts the force to additional training needs.
Graduated Levels of Force
Officers should choose the lowest level of force necessary to deal with a situation, and their use of force may be considered excessive if their response doesn’t follow a graduated spectrum of potential interventions. Determining if an officer did not follow this spectrum is one of the ways your attorney can determine if the officer reacted out of proportion to the threat caused by your actions. The officer should first rely just on his presence to deal with a situation, before moving on to using verbal statements. The next step is using grabbing, holding, or other physical force that does not involve a weapon. Batons, dogs, or other weapons at their disposal should then be used prior to an officer deciding to use a lethal weapon like a firearm. Once the situation is under control, the officer must stop his use of force. For example, if you are handcuffed and officers continue to punch you, you have an actionable case for use of excessive force.
If you are the victim of police brutality, contact a reputable attorney with experience in this area of the law. Courts consider many circumstances and defenses in these cases, and you need someone on your side to deal with a process that may seem stacked against you from the start.