Excessive Force by Police Officers

At times, when a police officer arrests someone who is suspected of, or is committing a crime, they must use physical force.  When the suspect appears to pose an immediate threat to the safety of an officer or third-parties, police may legally exert reasonable force as established by law enforcement policies, procedures, and laws.

However, even if someone does not comply with police commands, the amount of force used must be objectively reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances. The use of deadly force must be used as a last resort. Police Officers commit misconduct and violate civi rights when they shoot and kill someone based on their stated subjective, but unreasonable, fear.

As outlined by California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI 2017) an officer may use “only that degree of force necessary to accomplish the arrest….” When the force becomes excessive, beyond what is necessary to bring a suspect under control, and a detainee is harmed, the use of police force becomes illegal. In some cases, under the United States Code Section 1983, CACI No. 3020, use of excessive force may also be considered a civil rights violation.

In California and throughout the country, policies, procedures, and legal mandates dictate the use of appropriate police officer force.  All Police Officers must be trained according to Police Officer Standard Training. (P.O.S.T.) and keep up to date on its standards. When an officer uses deadly force in self-defense, standard police practices and most agencies polices dictate that the officer must be facing what is reasonably believes to be an imminent or immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.

It is the responsibility of individual police departments to teach and prepare their officers in proper use of force through repetitive, consistent training so during a potentially dangerous and volatile situation, these techniques are second nature and not influenced by emotional, adrenaline-fueled reactions. Also, police department supervisors and their subordinates share responsibility in reporting and responding to warning signs when an officer is at risk of being violently out-of-control or has exceeded reasonable force in the line of duty.

Following the infamous Rodney King incident in 1993, a policy regarding deadly force was created, which applies nationally to all Department of Justice (DOJ) law enforcement officers. It specifically states that “the amount of force used cannot exceed what a reasonable person would deem necessary to make the arrest, detain the suspect, or protect an officer or third party.”
While we all want to believe the police can be trusted to execute arrests and detentions in a responsible, controlled manner, too many times, use of force exceeds the limits of reasonable conduct.   Tragically, excessive force by officers has increasingly been in the headlines with many cases resulting in unnecessarily severe injuries and fatalities.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2016, 782 California police officer incidents involved serious injury or death, with more than 25 percent occurring in Los Angeles County. Tragically, though not always because of excessive officer force, 157 suspects died during encounters with police that year.

Another alarming report, issued by the ACLU of Southern California, acknowledged that the Anaheim Police Department has a higher rate of officer-involved deaths than most other major cities, including New York, Boston, and Atlanta.

In response to the climbing rate of excessive police force incidents, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) passed a new Assembly bill (#953) which, as of July 1, 2018 requires all law enforcement agencies to collect and report all police caused injuries and fatalities to the state.
Yet, proving serious injuries or fatalities were caused by excessive police force can be a complex and challenging endeavor. Officers and their supervisors often employ a code of silence, and the victim is less likely than police are to be believed by authorities and juries.

If you have been injured because of excessive police force or a loved one has been killed during an arrest or detainment, civil rights may have been violated. In such cases, it is possible to hold the law enforcement agency and the injurious officers responsible financially and possibly criminally. Since investigating and pursuing damages is a complex legal process, it’s important to hire an attorney who is experienced in excessive force and police brutality investigations and litigation.

V. James DeSimone Law is comprised of Los Angeles police misconduct lawyers who have decades of experience representing victims of excessive police force, police brutality, and other forms of police misconduct. Our attorneys understand the trauma and harm such an event can cause, and we’ll respectively guide you through the process of recovering monetary damages for your harm.
At no up-front cost to you, a V. James DeSimone attorney will personally review your case, advise you about your rights and determine whether you may have legitimate monetary recourse. Or, if a loved one has been killed, we’ll evaluate the possibility of a wrongful death civil lawsuit. But it’s important to act quickly. Statutes of limitations restrict the time allowed after an incident of excessive police force to file a complaint, and, when the situation demands it, time constraints may affect the filing of a lawsuit. And, as time passes, witnesses become more difficult to find, evidence may disappear, and memories fade, making successful litigation more challenging.

Meeting with our attorneys to evaluate your case is free, and if we take you on as a client, you will never pay a penny up-front. Since we only get paid when we win your case, you can be assured we will work diligently on your behalf. To speak with one of our qualified, experienced excessive police force and police brutality attorneys personally, call 310-693-5561 to schedule an appointment.

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