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Excessive Police Force Injuries

While the majority of police officers in Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, and Bellingham are hard-working and do their jobs well, there are instances when a police officer will go too far and make a mistake while on the job that causes you injury. In these cases, the police officer should be held accountable for their mistakes.

Personal injury cases involving excessive police force are similar to others in that the burden of proof rests upon the plaintiff, who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer used more force than was necessary during an arrest or encounter.

Washington State Excessive Police Force Laws

Excessive force by the police is against the law as it represents a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which proclaims:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

We’ve all seen video depictions of excessive police force, such as that which was inflicted upon Rodney King in 1991. Rodney King was driving intoxicated and resisted arrest when stopped by police; however, the jury found this to be no excuse for the outright brutality inflicted upon him by several members of law enforcement. King sued the city for his damages and was awarded $3.8 million, including $1.7 million for his attorney's fees. Excessive police brutality is against the law, and if you have been mistreated or hurt by the police you likely have a viable case to file.

One potential hurdle in your personal injury case may be governmental immunity, a status in which some states

Civil Case Vs. Criminal Case

Most cases of excessive police force amount to civil cases, in which the plaintiff seeks a monetary award for damages suffered—unlike criminal cases in which the defendant can be incarcerated or put on probation. As such, guilty verdicts in civic cases are called “torts”—and can be attributed to negligence or assault and battery. Sometimes after a criminal case in which no wrongdoing is found, a plaintiff may file and succeed in a civic case, and reap monetary rewards for suffering—as was the case in the OJ Simpson trial regarding the death of his ex-wife.

Succeeding in a civil case can be both financially and psychologically rewarding to an injured plaintiff because it grants an experience of justice and social acknowledgement of a transgression.

What is Excessive Force?

While there is no hard and fast rule defining excessive force, common sense mandates that police officers use only as much physical force as is necessary to handle a suspect in an arrest or to defend themselves in a confrontation. A general rule of thumb that is used by most juries to determine whether or not excessive force was used in any given case is to consider the amount of force that a reasonable person in the role of the police officer would use to handle the situation. If the officer in question used more force than is reasonable, than he or she may be deemed as being guilty of using excessive force.

Obviously, manhandling a suspect by causing physical pain or inflicting scratches, bruises or broken bones during a routine search and frisk operation would likely be an unreasonable amount of force.

However, it may be difficult for a plaintiff to prove that a police officer accosted them physically and caused them pain and/or emotional distress if there are no bruises or marks.

In cases in which a suspect resists arrest or becomes unruly or aggressive, an officer is allowed to use as much force as is necessary to retain or regain physical control of the suspect. In some circumstances, the use of deadly force is justified, especially when the suspect poses an imminent danger and threat to the public.

Public Outcry Against Excessive Force and Police Brutality

While the use of excessive physical force may be justifiable in extreme circumstances, the general public in the United States has railed against police violence vehemently in recent years. As we have seen with Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, and many other victims of police violence, the citizenry of our country is rightfully shocked and outraged when the people who we entrust to protect us violate their sworn oath and turn on us.

The African-American community in particular has been a central target for illegal police violence, to which there has been a significant response of resistance and activism opposing such violations. No longer defenseless, the public is now armed with video-taking phones that are used to post videos of police brutality on social media—where the whole world can see the violence, misconduct and maltreatment committed by law enforcement.

In the current social atmosphere of condemnation regarding incidents of excessive police force, law enforcement is on high alert to be on the best behavior and act as they should: both legally and ethically.

What You can do to Build Your Case

The most important thing you can do if you believe you have been the victim of excessive police force is call a lawyer to discuss the details of your case. You need to collect and document as much evidence as you can to support your claim. A capable lawyer or law firm can assist you to determine and document the key facts of your case, including identifying injuries and locating witnesses.

Common Police Brutality Injuries

If you have been injured by the police, you may be severely injured and unable to return to work or your normal life. These injuries may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Back injuries
  • Concussions
  • Head injuries
  • Lacerations

Trying to treat these injuries on their own or letting them heal on their own may not be a good idea. This is because these injuries may not heal on their own. Rather, they may likely need medical care from a professional such as a physical therapist, an osteopath, or a chiropractor.

How The Jackman Law Firm can Help

If you have suffered serious injuries because of police brutality or excessive police force, then you have the right to make a claim against the police department for your damages. This may not be as easy as you think as the police department has a track record of aggressively fighting these cases in court. An experienced, equally aggressive attorney on your side can level the playing field and help you prove your case. The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover the following:

  • Money for medical bills
  • Money for lost wages, if you have any that you lost
  • Money for pain and suffering
  • Money for out of pocket expenses
  • Money for your spouse

In addition, if the police department either accuses you of wrongdoing or attempts to deflect the blame in some way, then you need an attorney who can help you by arguing that you were fault-free. This is done by a number of ways, including sending subpoenas and interviewing witnesses who may be able to help prove your case. This is very important for the outcome of your case. The Jackman Law Firm has helped many people in this exact situation. Feel free to call us for a free consultation.

Client Reviews
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