Law enforcement officials have the right to detain, arrest and use force against civilians when necessary and appropriate. However, there are times in which they abuse their power and act more harshly than the law allows them to. Force against civilians that is unwarranted or excessive is generally referred to as police brutality.
If you or a loved one has recently had an interaction with police that you believe was excessive or unnecessary, it may have been an instance of police brutality. The following is an overview of what types of actions would constitute an instance of police brutality and the actions that you can take to assert your rights.
Police brutality and unreasonable force
To show that police brutality took place, you need to demonstrate that the police showed excessive force given the situation’s circumstances. For example, the police are within their rights to use deadly force if a person poses an immediate lethal danger to them or others, and they have no other viable option. However, using the same type of force on a person suspected of petty theft who is fleeing the scene would be unreasonable.
Different types of force
There are five different types of force that should be used gradually and only when the situation necessitates them. These are a physical presence; verbalization — the act of making verbal requests; empty-hand control — using grabs, holds, punches or kicks; less-lethal methods such as police dogs and tasers; and, finally, the use of lethal force.
Filing a claim with the government
If you believe that you are a victim of police brutality, you will need to file a claim with the government. This may be handled at a state or federal level depending on the allegations that you have made.
It is important to stand up for your rights as a citizen and ensure that police brutality is put to an end. Make sure that you understand how the law will apply to your situation.