Allegations of police brutality aren’t necessarily uncommon—or unjustified. Officers have been known to take liberties with suspects, and sometimes bystanders, when (they think) no one is looking. While proving police brutality can be a challenge, there are avenues for relief.
Police brutality affects its immediate victims and can undermine the community's trust in its police force.
How Much Force Officers Can Use During Arrest
Police officers are generally allowed to use reasonable force to take a person into custody. For example, if a suspect resists by momentarily attempting to run away or giving a token push, a police officer wouldn’t be justified in using extreme force. If officers use unnecessary force, they can be subject to serious repercussions, including criminal prosecution and civil liability (in the form of a lawsuit by the victim).
Resisting Arrest When Police Use Excessive Force
In most states, arrestees can resist arrest if the officer uses excessive force that's likely to cause great harm, but the right to defend is limited.
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Suing the Police for Excessive Force
Excessive force by the police during an arrest violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But what are the chances a victim who brings a civil lawsuit will win damages?
Taser Lawsuits Against the Police
Police officers are, of course, allowed to use reasonable force when arresting someone. When they use more force than is necessary to make an arrest, the arrestee might have a viable lawsuit for any resulting injuries.
Section 1983 Lawsuit: Suing Police for Civil Rights Violations
Section 1983 refers to a federal statute that allows people to sue for certain kinds of civil rights violations, including excessive police force.
Excessive Police Force and the Provocation Rule
In County of Los Angeles v. Mendez, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the provocation rule, which some courts had used in police force cases.
Qualified immunity shields public officials from civil liability for civil rights violations as long as the right wasn't "clearly established."
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