Police Brutality – Are You a Victim?
The police are tasked with protecting the people. But what happens when the people are victimized by police? While the vast majority of law enforcement officers are ethical men and women who take their jobs as public servants very seriously, there are some who choose to abuse their power.
Police brutality is rare. But, there’s a good chance that instances of it are under-reported and fly beneath the radar of mainstream media. When a case of police brutality does become public, it’s typically met with outrage and promises of reform by people in power.
But what about those cases that aren’t caught on camera—those cases where the police abuse their power and there’s no one to see it but them and you?
If you feel like you are the victim of police brutality, the physical pain is often second to the feeling that no one believes you. You will have a hard time finding sympathy at the police station and you may even find that your story is doubted by judges and courtroom officials. But, you know what you experienced and finding someone to side with you is important.
A case of police brutality or unnecessary use of force usually begins with an arrest or a stop. Maybe you were stopped for driving on expired plates when police found you had an outstanding warrant. Perhaps they stopped you to question you about something. Whatever the situation, police contact initiated it.
When dealing with the police, it doesn’t take much for a situation to become volatile, particularly if they are trying to take you into custody.
Your best bet at walking away unharmed and not facing additional criminal charges is to comply with any instructions and the orders from the officer. Even if you don’t believe they are right—let the courts decide that. When you are one on one with police, it’s really not the right time to challenge their thought process or their power.
The police can use a reasonable amount of force when they are trying to take someone into custody or even when they are trying to question someone who becomes aggressive. How much force is used is where a case can go from a reasonable use of force to a case of police brutality.
How Much Force are the Police Allowed to Use When Arresting Someone?
Police are allowed to use just enough force to maintain control. Their actions in regards to force are strictly regulated by what’s called the “Use of Force Continuum”. This ranking system of force sees officer presence as the first level, followed by verbal commands and climbing through several steps all the way to deadly force.
The officer is allowed to use a level of force on the continuum just above the level of resistance you are providing. In other words, if their presence doesn’t eliminate the problem, they can use verbal commands, and so forth. While this continuum is used in many jurisdictions across the country, slightly different terms may be applied to the same methods in other areas.
When it comes to alleging police brutality, there are two categories: “unnecessary use of force” and “excessive use of force”. One applies where force was not necessary at all and the other when force was necessary but applied at an excessive level.
Criminal Charges In Light of Police Brutality
If your encounter with police resulted in criminal charges like resisting arrest or assault on an officer, those charges could be dropped if there is legitimate evidence of an excessive or unnecessary use of force.
While a video tape of your arrest would be the ultimate in evidence–witness testimony, photographs of injuries and similar pieces can also be useful. Proving police brutality can be very difficult, but a good defense attorney will be honest with you about your chances of getting your charges dropped and even potential future civil litigation.
In a perfect world, the people could trust police and the police would never have to use force to accomplish their goals. However, this world is far from perfect. There are checks and balances in place to ensure abuses of power don’t happen often—though they are sometimes inevitable.