Law enforcement officers face many dangers each day when they are carrying out their working responsibilities. Recently, after many shootings against police, police departments across the United States have decided it’s time to think about new tactics for a more difficult era of tension, including racial tension. There has been an unfortunate increase in lethal mass shootings and global terrorism. In fact, just recently there has been a killing of five officers in Dallas that you may have heard about in the news. This has been deemed one of the deadliest assaults on U.S. law enforcement since the September 11 attacks. Now law enforcement has one thing on their mind: How to boost overall safety to officers.
However, many citizens are wondering how they can protect themselves just as much from police who use excessive force. Good training is necessary to enable an officer to react properly given the circumstances of any situation and make a call on what actions they must take. In some situations, this may mean that a police officer has the right to use some level of force. In diffusing situations, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights states that, “In apprehending alleged criminals, and protecting themselves and others, officers are legally entitled to use appropriate means, including force.” There are five components of force identified by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, known as physical, chemical, electronic, impact, and firearm. However, many more people are becoming increasingly intimidated by the presence of police officers. This means that the definition of “force” can be up for grabs.
How Much Force is “Excessive Force”?
If excessive force is used by the police during an arrest, this is a direct violation of your Fourth Amendment rights by the U.S. Constitution. This means that, if you have been a victim and possibly even injured by the force, you have a viable lawsuit against the arresting officers or the municipality that employs them. Many lawsuits that take place against the police in our modern times involve the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Part of this act alleges that the defendant violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. The only time when it is legal for a police officer to use force is when it is necessary to make an arrest or defend himself or herself from somebody who is acting violent or could potentially be violent.
This means, if you were resisting arrest, the officer is permitted to use more force than if you were just compliant as you should have been. They may even use deadly force in some situations if they are threatened with death or great bodily harm. Sometimes the amount of force will be solely based on whether or not they have committed a felony or a misdemeanor. If the suspect is fleeing, there is a good chance that the police will use force to detain them.
In a lawsuit, there must be a burden of proof. Is the officer able to prove that the force was necessary, given the nature of the situation? In many states, excessive force cases are treated very differently than your normal, everyday lawsuit. There is usually the presumption that the officer acted with the necessary level of force. One of the best ways to prove your case is to show the judge that you were actually innocent, and that the use of force was unnecessary. These laws vary from state to state, which is why it is especially important that you seek the legal help of an attorney you can trust. At The Law Office of Peter Blair, you can trust us with your case and helping you get the rights you deserve.