Police officers are charged with keeping their jurisdictions safe. They will sometimes have to take actions to get control of a situation. They must do this by using as little force as possible. The Fourth Amendment and Eighth Amendment outline what use of force is appropriate in these cases, so it’s imperative that officers abide by the proper protocol.
It is possible that excessive force can lead to the victim suffering great harm. In extreme cases, victims have passed away. These incidents should never happen. When they do, the person who was harmed may opt to pursue legal action if the situation didn’t warrant the force that was used.
How are officers supposed to gain control of situations?
Officers are supposed to use a graduated system to try to deescalate situations. There might be times when this isn’t possible, but the officer should always opt to use the least force possible. There are five broad graduated levels that they should work through. These include:
- Having a physical presence can sometimes stop incidents
- Using verbal commands, including statements and direct orders
- Using empty-hand options, such as holds and grabs
- Using less lethal methods, including Tasers, trained police dogs and chemical sprays
- Using lethal force, which includes firearms
There are many factors that go into determining whether applied force was necessary. This includes the crime that was in progress or the circumstances that were present, whether there was an immediate safety threat, how the person upon whom force was used was behaving, any alternatives that were available and what warning could have been used.
What should you do if you’re the victim of excessive force?
You may have a legal claim, and there is a chance that the violation of your civil rights could have an impact on a criminal matter. Consulting with someone familiar with police brutality claims may be beneficial so you know exactly what options are available to you.
One thing that you must remember is that some officers are able to claim qualified immunity, which can limit or eliminate the amount of civil liability they hold in these cases. This might be a consideration if you’re considering taking this type of action. Your attorney should be able to provide you with information about this possibility.