Since the death of George Floyd, protests have erupted across the country. Some of these protests have coincided with violent looting and riots. Along with nightly demonstrations against police violence happening in Philadelphia, widespread violence has increased. Some of these riots resulted in looting and burning. Philadelphia has seen at least 262 homicides this year, up by 30% since last year. While police brutality set off nationwide protests, police brutality continues to happen against peaceful protesters.
Police Officers are Responding With More Force
Many police forces are responding to the riots with more force, including some incidents of police brutality. The New York Times reports that police officers have resorted to using pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons on protesters, journalists, and bystanders. For example, police officers in Atlanta stopped two college students who were driving in a car. They fired tasers at them, violently dragging them out of the vehicle. In New York, two police officers driving an SUV plowed into a crowd of protesters.
Assault or Battery by a Police Officer
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to protest peacefully. Law enforcement officers in Philadelphia do not have the right to use violent methods against peaceful protesters. When a police officer commits a violent physical act, he or she should be held accountable for that unjust and illegal behavior.
Law enforcement officers do have a right to use force, but only under certain situations. They can use appropriate levels of force when suspects are acting aggressively or violently, for example. The line between permitted versus unlawful police behavior can sometimes become blurry. Police officers usually aggressively deny any allegations of assault or battery against innocent individuals.
It is important to gather as much evidence as possible in the form of eyewitness accounts and video footage when available. A thorough investigation can reveal discrepancies in police records and reports. Thankfully, many police-related incidents are filmed by other protesters, making it less challenging for victims of assaults by police officers to bring a lawsuit against them.
Suing the City of Philadelphia for Assault and Battery During Protests
Victims of police assault and battery have begun filing civil rights lawsuits against the Philadelphia police department. These lawsuits allege that the Philadelphia department initiated violence against peaceful protesters. At least three different plaintiffs filed lawsuits against Philadelphia in July, accusing them of using military-level violence. These victims allege that law enforcement officers caused injuries to people who are protesting as well as innocent bystanders.
According to Bret Grote, the legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center, the police “were just opening fire on anybody they saw, for hours and hours, regardless of any conduct or justification.” He also accuses law enforcement of shooting residents on their own streets, gassing firefighters, and shooting at old people.
Types of Police Violence
Police brutality is not limited to police officers using violence against peaceful protesters, although that is happening around the country. Nobody should have to endure violence at the hands of police, especially when they are engaging in lawful conduct such as protesting. Suffering an assault by a police officer can have a lasting negative emotional effect. Police misconduct can also include the following:
- The use of excessive force
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Humiliating strip searches that are unnecessary
- False arrest
Protecting Your Civil Rights
When police officers engage in police brutality by assaulting and injuring peaceful protesters, they violate the protesters’ civil rights. We all have a right to free expression under the First Amendment. Accordingly, law enforcement officers may not use excessive force or heavy-handed tactics to disperse crowds peacefully protesting. The use of tear gas itself can be considered an assault in some cases, especially when it is not justified.
Law enforcement officers are permitted to use force against suspects, including deadly force, but only when they fear imminent bodily harm. There are stringent rules about when Philadelphia police officers can use force. In many cases, including some of the instances mentioned above, Philadelphia police officers are not justified in using violent force against peaceful protesters.
Have you been injured due to an assault by a police officer? In that case, you may have a right to file a civil rights violation lawsuit against the police officer and the department responsible for your injuries. One of the best ways to fight back against police violence is to file a civil lawsuit and hold police officers who act wrongfully accountable for their actions. Successful plaintiffs can secure damages for the injuries they have suffered due to police brutality.
Types of Damages You Can Win in a Police Brutality Case
When police officers violate the strict rules regarding the use of force and engage in violence against their police department’s procedural rules in training, victims can hold them liable through a civil rights lawsuit. A successful plaintiff can recover the following types of damages through a police brutality lawsuit:
- The cost of medical care
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental trauma
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Expenses for mental health treatment
- Compensation for lost wages
Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Assault and Battery Lawyer
If you or your loved one have suffered an injury after an assault by a police officer, you may be entitled to compensation. At Abramson & Denenberg, P.C, We do not charge clients who are victims of police brutality or their families for any upfront legal fees. We only ask that you compensate us after we help you win your case.
We have helped victims of Philadelphia police misconduct recover millions of dollars. The best thing you can do is to contact an experienced attorney who will advocate for you and stand up to the police. Contact our Philadelphia Law Firm today to schedule your initial consultation.