Police abuse is rampant in the United States, which violates civil rights, a crucial aspect of the constitution. Just because the police suspect you of committing an offense doesn’t render your civil rights null and void, which is the premise behind the Fourth Amendment. The Amendment upholds the rights of individuals, including those suspected of committing a crime.

If you’ve been a victim of excessive force by the police and suffered injuries in the process, you need to know that your civil rights were violated. You could use the services of a criminal defense and injury lawyer in Philadelphia to evaluate the case and get legal counsel on the steps to take to hold the officers accountable for their misconduct.

What is Excessive Force by Law Enforcement Officers?

Police officers are allowed by law to use some degree of force in the course of duty. However, the force they exert should be proportionate to the force the person being arrested uses to resist the arrest. For example, a police officer can use a gun against the suspect if the individual threatens the officer with a deadly weapon.

On the contrary, it would be unlawful for an officer to use such deadly force if the suspect didn’t threaten the officer with deadly force. Their action would amount to excessive force, a type of police brutality and misconduct.

Examples of Excessive Force by Police

Police officers often cross the line several times when discharging their arresting duties. Common scenarios that equate to excessive force include:

  • Unwarranted beatings that lead to broken bones and other severe injuries
  • Unnecessary strip searches
  • Sexual abuse during searches or physical abuse when a suspect is in custody
  • Intimidation using deadly weapons
  • Pretending to arrest a suspect to intimidate them
  • Intimidation by killing a suspect’s pet

The Philadelphia Police Department only allows police officers to use the least amount of force possible to overcome resistance by a suspect.

Consequences of Excessive Force

Police officers who use excessive force can cause physical injuries, emotional trauma, or psychological anguish to victims. If this has happened to you or your loved one, don’t suffer in silence. A police brutality lawyer in Philadelphia can look into your case and help you file a lawsuit against the arresting police officer or the municipality where the officer works.

Is Excessive Force by Police a Civil or Criminal Case?

Police misconduct in the form of excessive force can happen when an officer is arresting an individual for a criminal offense. However, the wrongdoing by the officer is a civil mistake because the victim often suffers physical injuries or dies in the process. 

Anyone seeking compensation can file a civil lawsuit for assault and battery. Both are intentional tort offenses, and depending on the case specifics, one may sue for negligence. Based on the Civil Rights Act of 1871, a Philadelphia criminal defense and injury attorney can provide legal representation and argue the case in fighting for justice and compensation.

What is the Difference Between Excessive Force and Police Brutality?

A common question is whether there’s a difference between excessive force and police brutality. There’s a thin line between the two, with excessive force being when a law enforcer uses more force than necessary to resolve a situation or protect the public from harm.

On the other hand, police brutality comprises various forms of misconduct, the most common being excessive force during an arrest. Other forms of police brutality can also include:

  • Undue restraint
  • Abuse or power
  • Police shooting
  • Racial profiling
  • Physical violence, including the improper use of pepper spray, nerve gas, and police batons

The relationship between brutality and excessive force is that excessive force is applicable more broadly than police brutality. However, you can file a lawsuit and recover damages for both with the help of a skilled Philadelphia police brutality attorney.

Can I Sue the Philadelphia Police Department?

The Fourth Amendment protects your rights and allows you to sue for the injuries and damages you sustain due to excessive force by police. Excessive force violates your constitutional rights and can be remedied by filing a civil rights complaint. An attorney can help you create a strong case to pursue monetary damages and possibly, injunctive relief.

Proving an Excessive Force Case Against a Police Officer

The burden of proof lies with you when you decide to file a lawsuit against a police officer for the use of excessive force. You must demonstrate that the officer used excessive force that wasn’t necessary for the situation. That’s because police departments often aggressively defend their own against misconduct claims. In their defense, an officer may claim the following:

  • Reasonable force in self-defense
  • Lack of damages
  • Qualified immunity

Proving your case can be complex, so you need a skilled and experienced police brutality lawyer in Philadelphia to defend and protect your rights. They will collect the necessary evidence, including eyewitness reports and medical records, or hire an expert to fill in the gaps to create a strong case on your behalf.

What Damages Can I Claim for Excessive Force by Police?

When filing a civil lawsuit against a police officer who used excessive force on you, your lawyer will advise you on the damages to pursue.

The most common damages include:

  • Compensation for medical bills for the sustained injuries
  • Physical pain
  • Lost income
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

Defend Your Civil Rights Against Police Abuse with Legal Help

Excessive use of force by police when making an arrest or enforcing the law is unconstitutional. No one should suffer at the hands of law enforcers despite being accused or suspected of committing a crime. Anyone who sustains injuries due to police misconduct should get compensation for the damages.

Our firm’s deadly force attorney in Philadelphia can help you pursue justice and compensation. We will fight tirelessly and won’t rest until you get the justice you deserve. Contact us for an initial consultation with a compassionate and assertive legal representative.