Police brutality is a fact of life, in Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the nation. As long as there have been police who have power over others, there has been excessive use of force. How do you know if you have experienced police misconduct or police brutality, in the course of an investigation, arrest, or while in custody of the police in Pennsylvania?
What Is Police Misconduct?
Police misconduct includes:
- false arrest
- malicious prosecution
- false imprisonment
- excessive use of force
- failure to intervene when other officers are violating the victim’s rights
- neglecting to get a person who is in custody or investigation the medical care that they need
Extreme examples of police excessive use of force include the Rodney King (CA) and the Abner Louima (NYC) cases. In both situations, police savagely beat the victims. With the King case, the entire event was recorded, and the pictures do not lie. In the Louima case, he was sodomized and suffered serious permanent injuries while taken into police custody for crimes he did not commit. These are both examples of excessive use of force and police brutality.
Most of the time, brutal beatings and false arrests are not as well documented as the King or Louima cases, or there is not a videographer to share eyewitness versions of the excessive use of force that the police used. Nonetheless, it is possible to file a police misconduct report. Having an attorney who will protect your rights and make sure that the law is upheld can give you the reassurance and support you need to feel comfortable moving forward with a case against those who harmed you. In many situations, depending on the harm done, you may have legal grounds to file a civil suit against the law enforcement officials who engaged in police misconduct.
Additionally, people who have been arrested or who are under investigation are generally intimidated to go forward and file a police misconduct report. They are afraid that it will impact their criminal case negatively.
Do You Have a Case?
Defense lawyers for the police will generally try to say that the officer should be immune from this charge because prosecuting the officer or finding the officer guilty of the charge will in some way inhibit the officer from enforcing the law. It must be proven that the officer went far beyond reasonable limits in violating the victim’s rights. Generally this will include injuring the victim or otherwise damaging the victim.
Additionally, civil rights claims and claims of misconduct must have the supporting evidence. It is critical that you take pictures of yourself and of the scene as soon as you can. Make sure that you write down what happened as soon as possible after the incident. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses or others involved at the time of the incident. Have them write down what happened. Get the badges of any involved police. If there is clothing or other material evidence of the abuse of force, set it aside and take pictures of it.
Ask an attorney what is the process for filing a police misconduct report with the law enforcement agency involved. In many cases, the internal affairs of the department will launch an investigation on top of your own. It is important that you work with an attorney experienced in handling civil rights and police misconduct cases.
Falsely Arrested or Harmed by the Police? Talk to Experienced Criminal Defense and Civil Rights Attorneys in Harrisburg, PA