What You Need to Know about Police Brutality
At Strazzullo Law & Associates, PLLC, our New York criminal defense lawyers have helped many clients protect their rights during criminal investigations and trials. Sometimes this includes the protection of our clients’ rights against police brutality.
Law enforcement officers are given a great deal of leeway in performing their duty to protect the public and confront potentially violent individuals. But what if an officer uses more force than necessary? When does it cross the line into police brutality? Police brutality is not a legal term and each case is situational; examples may give the best descriptions.
A driver who failed to stop at a parking lot stop sign in Deming, New Mexico was pulled over by officers. The officers claimed that he was “clenching his buttocks” in a suspicious fashion, so they arrested him, obtained a search warrant, and forced the driver to submit to a colonoscopy to search for illegal drugs. No drugs were found.
In Tullytown, Pennsylvania, a 14-year-old boy was arrested on charges of shoplifting. The boy’s mother alleges that the officers beat her son and used a Taser on the boy’s face, leaving him with a broken nose and swollen eyes.
Police officers act as agents of the government, therefore, the U.S. Constitution limits on governmental powers apply to police officers as well. This means that while an individual is able to sue the officer or department for tort damages, many cases also involve civil rights violations. Victims of police brutality may raise constitutional claims including:
- Denial of due process rights of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution
- Unreasonable searches and seizures prohibited by the Fourth Amendment
- Violation of civil rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1871