Police Brutality Lawyers Serving North and South Carolina
Police officers are entrusted with great power and responsibility. What do you do when an officer abuses their power and you, or a loved one, are the victim of police brutality?
Most officers work hard to protect and serve our communities. We work with them to help our clients seek justice. But when a bad officer abuses their power to terrorize and torment others, they must be held accountable.
What Is Police Brutality?
Police brutality is characterized by unwarranted or excessive use of force against civilians and is a violation of your civil rights. When brutality results in an injury or death, you have been deprived of the rights guaranteed to you by law.
Sometimes police brutality is a series of acts. Other times, brutality is a single act. Whatever the case, if you or a loved one experienced police brutality, fight back and consult a police brutality lawyer.
What Is Excessive Force?
Excessive force happens when officers exceed the level of physical force necessary to subdue or apprehend a suspect. The Justice Department’s policy on use of force states, “Officers may use force only when no reasonably effective, safe, and feasible alternative appears to exist and may use only the level of force that a reasonable officer on the scene would use under the same or similar circumstances.”
Examples of excessive physical force can include:
- beating suspects with batons
- tasing docile or restrained suspects
- assaulting, punching, kicking, ramming heads into squad cars, and similar conduct
- fastening restraints unnecessarily tightly to cause discomfort or injury
- kneeling on a suspect’s neck and certain choke holds
- any other action that causes unnecessary injury
Adrenaline and heat-of-the-moment defenses are no excuse. Police are supposed to be cool under pressure, and their training should enable them to act in a calm, measured way.
Sexual Assault or Abuse
According to a CATO Institute study, sexual assault by police was the second most frequently reported form of brutality behind excessive force. In 2015, one news publication found that, over a 10-year period, a police officer was accused of an act of sexual misconduct every five days.
These instances of brutality may happen to anyone but overwhelmingly involve female victims. Here are some examples of how abusive officers commit their assaults:
- Traffic stops of women, especially at night and in deserted areas
- Routine arrests, where the threat of prosecution or jail is used to coerce sexual favors
- Threatening to remove or limit custody of children if sex is refused
- Fondling or abuse of suspects in custody
Sexual aggression from a police officer is highly disturbing behavior. If you’ve suffered from sexual abuse or assault by a police officer, contact a police brutality attorney immediately.
Perhaps the most obvious possible form of excessive force is police shootings. In general, the decision to unholster or “draw” their service weapon is left to the judgment of the officer on the scene, but firearms are the ultimate lethal force and should be the last resort.
According to data from the Police Violence Report:
- In 2022, there were 1,201 people killed by police in the U.S., making it the deadliest year of the last decade.
- 97% of those killed were shot.
- Officers were charged with a crime in 12 of those cases – less than 1%.
- The Report was able to identify the officers in only 313 cases.
- 22 of the officers had been involved in a shooting before.
- In roughly half of the killings, police were responding to a non-violent offense or to an event in which no crime was reported.
Wrongful Death by Police
Wrongful death by police can be caused by many different weapons:
- and “non-lethal” subdual methods like tasers
There are also more indirect ways that police brutality might lead to wrongful death.
For example, if someone has a medical condition, such as a diabetic requiring insulin, and is detained by police. What if an officer denies the person their medication and the person dies in custody? A wrongful death suit may help you seek justice in cases like these.
Monell Claims: Holding a Municipality Accountable
When your civil rights are violated in some way by a government official or authority, you may have what is called a Monell claim. The name springs from the case Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York. While the case had nothing to do with police brutality, it did establish a vital doctrine for civil rights violations like police brutality:
A municipality that employs a police officer who commits police brutality may be civilly liable for failing to properly train and/or supervise the officer and prevent the damage they did.
While the stories of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made national news, police brutality isn’t a distant threat. It happens in the Carolinas, and probably far more often than people think. Some examples include the cases of Marcus Deon Smith in Greensboro in 2018, and Danquirs Franklin in Charlotte in 2019. In both cases, the excessive force used ended in wrongful death, and after court battles, the municipalities paid millions to settle civil cases.
What Types of Damages Can I Pursue in a Police Brutality Case?
If you’ve suffered police brutality, you can and should seek compensation for the harms you’ve suffered, including:
- medical expenses resulting from your injuries
- lost wages resulting from missed work
- pain and suffering, including mental health consequences such as PTSD
Have You Suffered Police Brutality? Contact Our Civil Rights Team Immediately
If you were the victim of police brutality, we can help you. You’ve suffered a terrible injustice, and you may be entitled to significant compensation. Don’t fear retaliation for bringing your civil rights claim. We can help protect your best interests.
Contact a police brutality lawyer even if the brutality happened during an arrest or if you have a criminal record. But don’t delay – let us start building your case immediately.
The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has been fighting for clients’ rights since 1997. It’s in our DNA. We played a leading role in recovering $1.25 billion from the U.S. government on behalf of Black farmers in one of the largest civil rights cases in U.S. history.3
We have the deep resources to fight a lengthy battle for justice on your behalf if needed. We invested $13 million litigating the Black farmers case.
We will advance all the costs of fighting your case. And if we don’t recover compensation for you, you won’t pay any attorney’s fee at all. Guaranteed.2
Justice Is Not Out of Reach
We have more than 60 attorneys including an active litigation team, and our mission is to represent those who face powerful adversaries – to fight for justice against institutional foes with vast resources like the government.
What kind of case is police brutality?
Police brutality cases can have multiple facets. The way we help victims of police brutality is through civil cases seeking monetary damages for the violation of civil rights. For the criminal acts, those fall under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system. There are different rules that govern civil court versus criminal court and different punishments available.[ Back to Top ]
Is police brutality a civil rights violation?
Absolutely, though a personal injury lawyer can assist you too. You have rights guaranteed to you under the United State Code. Police officers have rules to follow regarding use of force, and regulations and processes to follow as well. When these rules, regulations, and processes are ignored, the result may be a violation of your civil rights.[ Back to Top ]
What is the most common police brutality?
It is difficult to tell what the most common form of police brutality might be. Different precincts and departments keep and manage their data differently – or fail to make it available. However you’ve been harmed by police brutality, we can help you.[ Back to Top ]