What is Police Brutality?

Law enforcement officers are granted broad police powers on behalf of the citizens they serve. Unlike ordinary members of the community, police officers are allowed to engage in activity that interferes with the rights of others, even if it causes physical harm. As long as officers are acting within the proper scope of their duties, they will likely be granted immunity from civil prosecution for any harm caused. Police power is not unlimited, however. Law enforcement officers are bound by the law, the U.S. Constitution and by certain rules and regulations that govern their behavior.

Excessive Force

Police officers are permitted to use force in order to arrest an individual and protect themselves and the community. But the force must be reasonable. This means it must be the least amount of force necessary to control the situation and accomplish police objectives. The use of excessive force may represent police brutality if it directly violates a person’s constitutional right to be free of undue restraint upon his liberty. Lawsuits for police brutality often arise from the excessive use of force. There is no single, clear definition of police brutality. The question of whether police activity involves excessive use of force depends upon the specific facts of each case.

Examples of Police Brutality

Excessive use of force may be illustrated by the following situations. These are only a few of the possible scenarios created by police brutality.

  • Striking, kicking or otherwise injuring a person who has already been restrained.
  • Use of res training techniques that cause the suspect to have difficulty breathing. These actions may result in severe injury or death.
  • Use of pepper spray to disperse nonviolent, peaceful protesters.
  • Shoving or grabbing bystanders who are observing but not directly involved in a police incident.
  • Striking, kicking or otherwise injuring a suspect who is not resisting arrest, or whose resistance can be easily overcome with a minimum use of force.

Lawsuits for Police Brutality

Proving that an officer used excessive force can be difficult. Nowadays, however, the use of cell phone videos makes police brutality more visible and more difficult for the police to refute. Still, video recordings, as well as witness statements, must be carefully preserved and evaluated by a legal expert.

If you or a loved one has been victimized by police brutality or another type of police misconduct, contact the attorneys at The Orlow Firm for a free initial consultation. For your convenience, we maintain four offices throughout New York City. Call (646) 647-3398 or contact us online.