If you watch the television news or read the newspapers, you can't help but see cases involving unnecessary and excessive force by police officers. No one would ever argue that being a police officer isn't a demanding job,which may include extreme levels of stress, but those demands do not excuse the inappropriate use of force by an officer of the law. When such force is applied, the victim and/or his or her family, have a right to compensation.
Please keep in mind that if an officer does something wrong which causes harm, that behavior may be criminal in nature. Whether it is considered criminal, and whether the case is prosecuted, is up to the city, state or federal prosecutor's office. However, in addition to the criminal case, the victim may pursue a civil claim for money damages, which has an entirely different standard of proof, and which is designed to make the victim and his or her family whole again after a loss. Even if the prosecutor's office declines to go forward with the criminal case, the potential to pursue the civil claim still exists.
In order to determine whether or not there's potential for a civil case, you must look at four things. First off, is there a duty. Of course, this is a relatively easy thing to prove as the purpose of the police is to protect their citizens. The second thing to look at is whether or not there was a breach of their duty. In other words, did the officer/s do something to not protect their citizens. An example of this would be if a police officer accidentally fired off a shot and it ends up hitting someone in the shoulder. This act of negligence certainly does not stay true to the duty of protecting the citizens. The next two parts, causation and damages, go hand in hand. Simply put, by breaching their duty, did the officers cause the damages. In the aforementioned example, it would be comparatively easy to prove that the bullet fired out of the officer's gun produced the damages. Finally, the damages are key, not just in justifying a civil case, but to determining how much the financial compensation for the victim should be. When deciding how much a case is worth, we look at the physical damages, the mental damages (which can be considerable), how long treatment takes, and wage loss.
Police brutality isn't limited to a shooting that should never have happened, it may also include: sexual misconduct by the officer, excessive force, blackmail, and racial profiling, just to name a few instances. If you suspect any of the aforementioned instances, it's imperative that you call to discuss your case with an experienced attorney to discuss your options. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia attorney Roger Gelb and his firm have represented over 10,000 clients and have recovered in excess of $100,000,000.00 (one hundred millions dollars) since its founding in 1954. Contact us today for a free consultation.