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Police officers in California are typically hardworking, moral, and ethical individuals who protect the safety and rights of those around them. It is rare for an officer to commit police brutality, but individuals should seek justice if they are the victim of unlawful actions on the part of a law enforcement officer.
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Police brutality is a form of misconduct that involves the excessive or unwarranted use of force by a police officer against a civilian. Police brutality can come in many forms and may include:
- Assault and battery.
- Unlawful killings.
- False arrest.
- Verbal abuse.
- Racial abuse.
- Mental injury.
- Property damage.
- Sexual assault and abuse.
- Denial of medical care.
- Wrongful search and seizure.
- Fabrication of evidence.
- Riot control agents used indiscriminately at protests.
Police brutality often violates individuals’ rights to liberty, security, freedom from discrimination, equal protection under the law, and even life.
The use of force is strictly governed by set standards that dictate when police can use force of any kind. The use of lethal force is governed especially carefully, as police killings should not happen unless there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury and when other options to deescalate the situation are insufficient.
The U.S. Constitution provides numerous protections for civilians that can help them in cases of police brutality. If you’ve suffered from police brutality, you may be able to claim a violation of one of the following:
- The Fourteenth Amendment: The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to procedural due process, which is the set of procedures the government must follow before depriving an individual of life, liberty, or property.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1871: The Civil Rights Act of 1871 enforces the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, giving individuals the right to sue anyone who deprives them of a constitutional right while acting under the color of the law.
- The Fourth Amendment: The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. This amendment states that police officers cannot perform a search or seizure without a judge-issued warrant unless particular circumstances exist that would preclude the need for such a warrant.
- The Fifth Amendment: The Fifth Amendment affords individuals due process under the law. It protects individuals from making incriminating statements by requiring law officers to read individuals their Miranda rights when the officer is making an arrest.
- The Eighth Amendment: The Eighth Amendment protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment. This amendment is often interpreted as additional protection against forms of police brutality, such as excessive force.
- The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009: This act created a federal law that criminalizes the act of willfully causing or attempting to cause bodily injury because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of the individual.
If you’re the victim of police brutality, these and other protections are in place to help you get the justice that you deserve. Contact Lem Garcia to learn more about the violations that may have occurred during your incident. As an experienced personal injury lawyer, he can help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
If you experience police brutality, it’s important that you take steps to document the incident as quickly as possible. If the police brutality results in an arrest, you may not have the liberty to take all the best steps. However, if and when you are free to act, you should:
- Get medical attention. See your doctor for a thorough examination, even if bruises and other injuries aren’t immediately detectable. It’s helpful to have this examination on record.
- Take detailed notes on the incident while the events are still fresh in your mind.
- Gather names and contact information from any witnesses to the incident.
- Take photos of any injuries or damages you’ve suffered. Photos of the area where the incident took place may also be helpful, depending on the nature of the crime.
- Call Lem Garcia to discuss your case further.
Do not hesitate to pursue your case if you’ve been treated unfairly by a police offer. Though these incidents are rare, they are very serious, and such offenses should be addressed with haste.
There are many ways that you can address a police brutality case. The assistance of an experienced lawyer is extremely valuable in this type of situation. You must determine the best course of action for your individual case, and this will vary greatly depending on the details of the incident. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer like Lem Garcia can help you make the best moves to protect your rights.
Some options that you may have include:
- Filing a Complaint with the Police Department: You can file an internal affairs complaint against the offending officer to notify the police department of the officer’s behavior. This may lead to serious consequences for the officer, such as a suspension or termination. An internal affairs complaint will not result in any type of compensation for the victim.
- Filing a Criminal Complaint: In a criminal case, the Department of Justice brings a case against the accused individual. The DOJ seeks to punish the accused through imprisonment or another sanction. Criminal cases involving police brutality are rare, as the evidence must establish proof of the incident beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Filing a Civil Suit: In a civil suit, the DOJ brings the case against the law enforcement agency rather than the individual. The proof only has to satisfy a preponderance of evidence, which makes civil cases easier to pursue. The DOJ aims to correct the policies and practices of the law enforcement agency in this type of case rather than punishing any specific officer or officers.
There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by talking to me about your case. Case evaluations are free and can prove to be very helpful. You might have a great case and not even know it. I am a police abuse lawyer in West Covina and I look forward to speaking with you.
Call me with any questions or concerns you might have about your potential case. I am dedicated to giving you and your case the utmost personal attention and respect.
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Lem Garcia | Law
1720 W. Cameron Ave., Ste. 210
West Covina, CA 91790
17777 Center Court Dr.
Cerritos, CA 90703
(By Appointment Only)