Police brutality is the general term describing what happens in an excessive force or assault and battery claim against law enforcement when serious bodily injury occurs. We include police brutality with Police Misconduct, Police Abuse, and Excessive Force. The main term that is used in court is called excessive force. Excessive force cases are where the police put beatings on our clients that are unwarranted, where the client suffers serious bodily injury as a result of the wrong done by the officer.
For an excessive force claim, we must show that the amount force used by the law enforcement officer was greater than what a reasonable police officer would use based on the amount of force that officer was faced to achieve a lawful arrest.
For example, there are four basic level of police intrusion into your liberty:
- Mere Encounter – In a mere encounter, the police stop you and ask you questions that you may or may not have to answer based on the situation. In this scenario, the police are using no force at all but they are restricting your liberty if you are not free to leave.
- Control Holds – Control holds simply means the law enforcement officer is using force against you in some way, but they are not using any weapons. In other words, they are using their hands and their body to restrict you.
- Non-Deadly Force – Non-Deadly force means the law enforcement officer is using some type of weapon against you they deem to be non-lethal. This includes, but is not limited to, a baton, pepper spray, oc spray, taser, and retractable asp. While official policy is that all of these weapons are the same, almost all Philadelphia Police Officers agree that the retractable asp is by far the most assaultive of the bunch and the retractable asp inflicts the most damage to humans. We consider automobiles to be a deadly weapon under Pennsylvania law regardless of the police policy, and fight against the assertion of the government that police cruisers are non-deadly weapons.
- Deadly Force – Deadly force speaks for itself. A firearm, police cruiser, or a taser in certain situations can be deadly against certain people.
The amount of force the police are allowed to use is based solely on the amount of force against them. For example if a person is totally unarmed, the police have no reason to believe the person is armed, and the person is running away from the police, the police cannot use deadly force to apprehend the person. Therefore, if the police were to shoot the person with their firearm, there would clearly be a valid claim for excessive force.
Another example would be when a person is being accused of loitering or conducting a peaceful non-violent protest. The police cannot tase the protestors to get them to move off the property because the amount of force would be too great based on the amount of force the police faced. The police officer should only use one level of force higher then what they are facing. Therefore, the officers should simply handcuff the individuals and remove them, or even try to steer the people off the property with no arrest and no physical contact.
Call now for a free consultation with Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire. When you call, you will speak with a real attorney who will personally arrange your free consultation. Call us now at 215.546.0340 or fill out the form. Our Philadelphia Excessive Force and Police Brutality Lawyers are standing by.