Police misconduct can present itself in many different forms. Over the past decade, more than 85,000 law enforcement officers were investigated for misconduct nationwide. Currently, about 700,000 law enforcement officers work in the United States. It is likely that more than 10 percent of law enforcement officers have been or will be investigated for misconduct. Law enforcement officers have a duty to serve and protect their communities; however, the instances of misconduct are not insignificant. And perhaps the worst instance of misconduct comes when a police officer uses a gun and shoots a person unnecessarily, due to the deadliness of a firearm.
Victims of police shootings often have difficulty in deciding how they should proceed. Typically, when circumstances cause individuals to feel threatened or unsafe, they report the incident to the police. When a law enforcement officer is the source of your feelings of unsafety, victims are often apprehensive to trust the police department. You may not trust that your complaint will be taken seriously or that the department will fully investigate one of their own.
If you are wary of reporting an offense committed by a law enforcement officer, an experienced police brutality attorney can help. That goes double for when a police officer uses unnecessary deadly force and shoots you or someone you love.
An attorney can evaluate the facts of your case to help you determine the best way to proceed. Should you decide to pursue legal action, an attorney may provide invaluable guidance throughout this emotional and complex process.
What Is Police Misconduct?
Before you decide to take legal action, you must determine that you were, in fact, a victim of police misconduct. Police misconduct can include a wide range of actions from unprofessional behavior to unlawful behavior. While police officers have a difficult job, they should never sacrifice your civil rights and liberties when fulfilling their job duties.
Police misconduct can include violence or force resulting in pain, suffering, injury, loss of rights, and, in extreme cases, loss of life. In one recent year, 931 people were shot and killed by police. Of course, not every police shooting will result in death, but all occurrences can cause traumatic consequences.
Excessive force, often referred to as police brutality, is one of the most commonly reported types of police misconduct. To prove excessive force, victims must show that the officer used unreasonable force during an arrest or other encounter. In addition, victims must prove that the officer’s use of excessive force directly caused his or her injuries.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. False arrest is a violation of your rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. To prove false arrest, a victim must show that the police did not have probable cause to make an arrest. It can be extremely complex and difficult to prove a lack of probable cause. Despite the difficulties, victims who were falsely detained or arrested may fight for compensation for their emotional, physical, or psychological injuries.
Police misconduct in the form of sexual assault occurs more often than communities would like to believe. The very nature of police work creates a power imbalance. As such, people are routinely placed in compromising situations when police officers are involved. Compromising situations may involve being touched inappropriately or a request to perform sexual acts to get out of a ticket. These circumstances constitute an abuse of police power. Officers who use abuse their power, even if more subtly than described, deserve to be held responsible for their actions.
Police shootings can cause many different types of injuries, including both physical and mental. Despite the type of injury, every injury can be serious have lasting impacts on victims’ lives. One unfortunate consequence of injuries from police shootings is a reduced trust in law enforcement. However, it is not only the victim that loses confidence in law enforcement, but also the entire community. Reduced trust in police makes citizens fearful of any interaction with law enforcement. In turn, the community’s fear makes it more difficult for police to perform their job duties.
Victims of police shootings may suffer a variety of injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Mental anguish
- Internal bleeding
- Vision loss
- Wrongful death
The extent of medical care you require will depend on your specific injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury, medical expenses can be extensive. Victims of police shootings may require long-term medical care for their physical injuries. In addition, you may face expenses associated with any resulting emotional distress. Incidents involving police violence can be especially traumatic and emotionally scarring. You may require cognitive therapy or other emotional assistance on a daily basis.
Victims’ injuries may cause them to miss time from work. Some injuries may prevent you from working temporarily, while more severe injuries may leave you permanently unable to work. The inability to earn a living, places additional stress on victims who have increasing medical expenses. Other bullet wounds can kill their victims.
Victims need to hold police accountable for their unprofessional actions. Law enforcement officers whose unprofessional behavior causes a victim’s injuries and their departments may be financially responsible for any related medical expenses.
When another’s wrongdoing causes your injuries, you should not be responsible for the costs of medical treatment for those injuries. Contact a trusted police brutality lawyer to ensure you can avoid bearing the costs of your injuries.
Steps to Take After Police Shoot You
Police shootings present many challenges. An obvious challenge presents itself when police shootings occur during a victim’s arrest. Police may claim they feared for their lives and took appropriate action. The injuries may hinder victims’ ability to recall certain facts and details surrounding the event.
Additionally, victims are often apprehensive about filing a police misconduct claim because they fear retaliation from officers. You should not let your circumstances discourage you from filing a claim. Work with an established firm that regularly fights to protect the rights of injured victims to recover compensation.
Following a police shooting, you may not know what to do next. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a police shooting, the following guide presents some important next steps you should consider.
- Contact a police brutality lawyer. After a shooting by a police officer, speak with an experienced police brutality lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help guide you through the claims process. You may need to file a personal injury claim in a timely manner, and you may also have to defend any criminal charges filed against you. The sooner an attorney can evaluate your circumstances, the better.
- Take pictures. Pictures may be invaluable to your case, as they help to preserve evidence. Taking pictures of the scene and your injuries can help an attorney maximize your recovery.
- Keep damaged items. You should not throw away any items you had with you at the time of the incident. Store them in a safe place. They may be useful in demonstrating the amount of force the officer used when causing your injuries.
- Speak with witnesses. After your injury, speak with any witnesses. Eyewitness accounts of the incident may help support your claim of what happened. In addition, they provide a more neutral perspective of how the shooting occurred.
- Review video. With advanced technology, video surveillance cameras are extremely common. Almost all citizens also carry video cameras on their cell phones. in their pockets. The media attention surrounding police shootings makes has increased the likelihood that a bystander recorded the incident. Locating video evidence of police misconduct may substantially increase the ability to maximize recovery.
- Seek medical attention. Do not hesitate to seek medical assistance after enduring police misconduct. That a police officer caused your injuries does not decrease their severity or deem you any less deserving of medical treatment. Both physical and emotional injuries require immediate attention to ensure a full recovery. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. It will be necessary for you to begin the process of healing. Seek a medical evaluation and contact an attorney. Let your attorney handle the legal complexities while you focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
- Keep a journal. The burden is on the victim to prove the police officer acted unreasonably or used excessive force. Keeping a journal detailing the incident and your injuries can help maximize your recovery. You should write down all of the details you can remember, including the officer’s name, the time of day, the location, and any witnesses you spoke with. Over time, the details will fade away from your memory, writing any information down will aid your ability to recall. Take notes about your physical and mental recovery. Every day you should note your progress or setbacks, the pain you are feeling, and your mental state. Details of the injuries can support an injured victim’s argument for full compensation for all injury-related impacts.
Suffering injuries at the hands of an officer who you expected to protect you is a truly traumatic experience. The best way to get past this experience is to work with a police brutality lawyer with experience fighting for victims’ rights and helping them to maximize their recovery.
Receiving compensation for your injuries is not automatic upon filing a claim against a police officer. Filing a claim merely begins the process. Once a claim is filed, the government that employs the officer will employ their team of lawyers who will work to discredit your case.
You may need a team of your own who can stand up against the government’s lawyers that regularly fights for victims’ rights. Our experience has helped many people recover the compensation that they were entitled to. Victims’ may be entitled to seek compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Lost wages
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
No victim should fight for their rights alone. You need a team of lawyers by your side that regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to recover compensation. You should leave the legal process to an attorney, so that you may focus on your healing.
At some point during this process, an insurance company representing the government or the police officer may contact you. Insurance companies aim to expose their clients to the least financial responsibility possible. A representative will likely contact you offering a quick settlement to close your case. Although the offer may seem like a large amount, the amount will likely not cover all of your medical expenses. However, insurance companies know you are financially burdened and will take advantage of your situation.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, rather than giving money. Paying the full value of your claim will not result in their making money. The offer you receive will be a low ball offer. Do not feel pressured to accept any settlement offer. After accepting a settlement offer, you will be barred from seeking further compensation, even if the settlement amount does not cover your costs.
Typically, the true value of your claim will be much larger than the insurance company’s settlement offer. In fact, the low ball settlement offer likely won’t include enough money to cover your future medical expenses. In that case, you will be responsible for paying out-of-pocket for any additional medical expenses.
To avoid a financial burden, you should work with a trusted police brutality lawyer. Your attorney may help you create an accurate estimate of your future medical needs, which helps determine the full value of your claim. After determining the value of your claim, attorneys may begin negotiations with insurance companies.