Detroit Police Brutality Lawyers
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It’s natural to seek out protection from police, but what happens when those who should help you, hurt you instead? If that happens, you have options.
If you or a loved one were injured by police brutality during a protest, traffic stop, or another encounter, don’t hesitate to contact Davis Injury Lawyers, PLLC at (313) 462-7979. Our team is experienced in handling civil rights violations, including racial discrimination and police brutality. We are here to fight for an appropriate resolution to your circumstances, such as compensation.
Police Brutality at BLM Protests
We are facing a time of significant political and social unrest in America. Much of the focus is on local police departments and their racist treatment of Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color. In response to the continued use of brutal and lethal force, people across the nation have participated in peaceful protests under Black Lives Matter (BLM) banner. The New York Times reported BLM might be the largest movement in U.S. history.
Though 93% of BLM protests have been peaceful, many cities’ residents have been met with aggressive and harmful dispersal tactics, like tear gas, flash grenades, and tracer bullets, by their local police clothed in riot gear. Residents of Detroit have fared no differently. BLM and Detroit Will Breath protestors clashed with police throughout the summer of 2020, in some cases, resulting in serious injuries.
Challenging racism in our country is essential, and no one should be harmed for exercising their Constitutional right to peaceful assembly. As the First Amendment says, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or press, the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.
What Is Police Brutality?
Police brutality is an unnecessary and unlawful use of force that causes injury or death.
Amnesty International defines police brutality as various human rights violations by police, including racial abuse, beatings, torture, indiscriminate use of riot control agents at protests, and unlawful killings.
The truth that more people are learning this year is that police in the U.S. kill hundreds if not thousands of people each year. The exact number of police killings is unknown because data isn’t consistently collected, and the police often work to downplay any media attention.
But police brutality does not always result in death. Instead, many people who suffer at the hands of the police sustain serious injuries. Numerous BLM protestors have been blinded or lost hearing because of unnecessary excessive force.
The Constitutional Standard for the Use of Force
There are legal limits on the amount of force police officers can use.
The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the use of force by law enforcement officers in 1989 in Graham v. Connor. The court found the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteed citizens the right to be secure from unreasonable seizures, and any use of force by police must be objectively reasonable.
After an office uses force against an individual, whether a protestor or someone the officer believes participated in a crime, that officer’s conduct is reviewed to determine whether it was reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances and without regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation. This is an objective standard—not subjective. To review the officer’s actions, the court must consider how a reasonable officer would have acted at the scene based on the circumstances, including the severity of the crime, whether someone posed an immediate threat to the officer, or whether someone was fleeing or resisting arrest.
When Is Deadly Force Reasonable?
U.S. law allows deadly force under certain circumstances.
Based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, deadly force is reviewed the same way as non-lethal use of force. Was it reasonable? The court has ruled it is reasonable for an office to use deadly force against an unarmed individual to prevent their escape only if the officer has probable cause to believe the individual poses a serious threat of physical harm to the officer or others.
Laws Regarding Unlawful Use of Force in the U.S.
Federal law criminalizes certain types of unlawful use of force by the police.
The unlawful use of force and lethal force are common throughout the U.S., and state and federal laws do not do enough to protect individuals. According to Amnesty International, no state nor Washington, D.C. complies with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers. Nine states, including Michigan, had no laws on the use of lethal force by officers as of 2015.
There is a federal law regarding law enforcement misconduct: 18 U.S.C. §242. Police brutality might violate your civil rights under this law, which states: “Whoever, under color of any law, …willfully subjects any person…to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States [shall be guilty of a crime].”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates and prosecutes violations of the U.S. Constitution by law enforcement, which involve:
- Physical assault: A law enforcement officer used more than reasonable force against an individual being arrested, detained, or held in jail before conviction.
- Sexual misconduct: A law enforcement performed nonconsensual sexual contact on a person in their custody.
- Deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition or a substantial risk of harm: A law enforcement officer deliberately ignored a serious medical condition or risk of harm to a person in custody.
- Failure to intervene: A law enforcement officer allows a fellow officer to violate a person’s Constitutional rights.
Police officer’s qualified immunity protects them from personal liability.
There is a reason most police avoid criminal charges for their unlawful excessive and lethal force: qualified immunity. This legal doctrine protects government officials from lawsuits naming them as individuals for their harmful actions. They cannot be held personally liable for violating another individual’s constitutional rights.
Qualified immunity also extends to civil liability. In most cases, officers can’t be held financially liable for the harm they cause. Officers can only be named in a civil suit if they violated clearly established statutory or constitutional rights a reasonable person would have known about. However, for an individual to meet this burden is extremely challenging. There has to be a prior case with very similar facts to prove a victim of police misconduct should be able to sue.
What Should You Do If You Were a Victim of Police Brutality?
If you believe the police used excessive force against you, violating your Constitutional rights, contact our civil rights law firm.
It is to your advantage to talk with an experienced civil rights attorney about your experience with the police. Do not go to the police to report the officer’s conduct. Instead of receiving help, you might face criminal charges, like resisting arrest or disorderly conduct. Talk with a lawyer first.
At Davis Injury Lawyers, PLLC, we will review your situation, carefully analyzing the officer’s conduct under the circumstances. An analysis by a lawyer is critical. Without it, you might not fully understand your rights, legal options, and the likelihood of success in a legal claim.
During our review of the case, we will objectively determine the officers’ actions. We must define exactly what they did or did not do. We consider the totality of the circumstances, as well. We review how you came into contact with the police, such as a protest, traffic stop, or another encounter. We must define the information the officers had at the time and whether it might have given them probable cause to use force or not.
We will search for evidence related to your encounter with the police, including witness statements and video recordings. It is becoming increasingly common for police conduct to be recorded by passersby or other protesters who wish to see officers held accountable for their actions. Reviewing video footage of what happened can be extremely helpful in building your case.
Depending on the facts, we may recommend filing a state or federal lawsuit naming the police department and city or county as defendants. We may recommend naming individuals in the lawsuit as well, whether we believe they will be held personally liable or not. We will talk with you about your options and the process you face if you choose to sue. When you file a claim, it is your burden to prove the misconduct, which we can strive to do through eyewitness testimony, video footage, and expert testimony.
Did You Lose a Relative to Police Brutality?
If the police killed your loved one, talk with our civil rights attorneys at David Injury Lawyers, PLLC.
You may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the officer, police department, and city or county. Because of qualified immunity and political factors, you can’t expect a prosecutor to pursue homicide charges against the officer. But you and your family can pursue some measure of justice and compensation through a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
Is There a Police Misconduct Lawyer Near Me?
Davis Injury Lawyers, PLLC is located in Detroit, Michigan.
After being hurt or losing a relative to police brutality, you are probably wondering if there’s a lawyer who can represent you. You can search online or contact the state bar association to find civil rights and police misconduct lawyers in your area.
At David Injury Lawyers, PLLC, we represent individuals throughout Genesee County, Macomb County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, and Wayne County. We represent people in Flint, Mount Clemens, Pontiac, Ann Arbor, Detroit, or elsewhere in the state.
To talk with us about your constitutional rights and how police officers and departments can be held responsible for unlawful excessive and lethal force, contact us online or call (313) 462-7979. We offer free, confidential consultations.