DC Police Brutality Lawyers Explain Civil Claims Against Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers are essential to protecting the safety of the community. Nevertheless, sometimes police officers may abuse their power or act outside the scope of their duties, placing individuals at risk for serious civil rights violations as well as physical injuries. When this happens, state and federal laws allow victims to file personal injury lawsuits against the police department or other liable agency. However, claims against the government can be especially challenging because different rules often apply. For example, you may have only a short period of time in which to file your claim; this window is usually much smaller than the usual statute of limitations for injury lawsuits. Additionally, the officers and/or department often deny any wrongdoing. Therefore, if a law enforcement officer harmed you or denied your civil liberties, then you should always consult with police brutality lawyers before proceeding with a claim.
At Regan Zambri Long PLLC, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and have a reputation for success in police misconduct cases. For example, in one case, we represented several victims who sustained injuries due to excessive force during a protest in Washington DC. In that case, law enforcement officers injured several counter-protesters after engaging the group without cause. If you sustained injuries from an officer during a wrongful arrest or any circumstances, then we may be able to assist you in filing a claim and protecting your rights.
What Are Common Examples of Police Misconduct?
Law enforcement officers have a duty to act in the best interest of the community and protect the civil rights of its members. The law therefore grants the police a certain amount of power beyond regular citizens. However, this does not mean that they can act with impunity. Some examples of police misconduct include:
- False arrest and/or wrongful imprisonment. You may be able to file a civil lawsuit if the police arrested you without probable cause and/or held you in custody for a prolonged period of time. Additionally, an actual arrest is not always necessary to file a wrongful imprisonment claim; sometimes, it is enough that an officer threatened you or took other action to prevent you from leaving an area.
- Unwarranted search. At a traffic stop or any other time, law enforcement must have probable cause to search you and/or your vehicle. If a search happens without cause and without your consent, then you may have grounds for a civil claim.
- Failure to intervene. Police officers have a duty to step in to protect you from violence and/or crime. If you sustain injuries because law enforcement officers did not render aid when they had the opportunity to do so, then you may have grounds for a claim.
- Racial profiling. This occurs when police stop, question and/or take someone into custody based on his or her race. Often, racial profiling can lead to false arrest or wrongful imprisonment.
- Excessive force. If an officer uses more physical force than is reasonable or necessary when arresting someone, then serious injuries may result. Broken bones, widespread bruising and lacerations are common. Assault, including sexual assault, may also occur due to abuses of power. In the most serious cases, wrongful death may result from excessive force and/or a needless police shooting.
How Do I File a Lawsuit for Police Brutality or Misconduct?
If you sustained injuries, including psychological or emotional trauma, due to police misconduct, then you may be able to hold the officer and the department accountable for your damages. However, filing a civil lawsuit against any government agency can be difficult. For example, government employees like police officers have a certain amount of “qualified immunity,” which bars lawsuits in some cases. Therefore, to file a civil lawsuit against the police, follow these steps:
- Consult lawyers for police misconduct. Due to the complexity of these types of lawsuits, you should work with an attorney who understands the law and can advocate for your rights. Additionally, a lawyer can walk you through the claims process so that you do not miss deadlines or other requirements.
- Preserve all evidence you can. Important evidence may include photos of your injuries, clothing and damaged property, and video of the incident, if it exists. In some cases, your police brutality lawyers may be able to find and preserve video evidence as well. For example, traffic cameras or security footage from nearby businesses may be useful. However, these recordings may be overwritten within a few days, so it is best to contact a lawyer quickly.
- File complaints with the proper agencies. Usually, you must file an official complaint with the department, city and/or state agencies before bringing a civil lawsuit against the police. Additionally, you may notify the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Office. Your lawyer can explain this process and help ensure that you submit all correct documentation to support your claim.
Hurt by Law Enforcement? Call Our DC Lawyers for Police Misconduct
If police misconduct caused your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one, then contact our police brutality lawyers. We have a history of success with this kind of complex civil claim; we may be able to put our experience to work for you. Taking action against the police or any government agency can be daunting, but we are here to help. We have offices in Washington DC as well as Maryland and Virginia. Call (202) 463-3030 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation today.