Most police officers are hardworking and honest. They have stressful jobs that they perform bravely and professionally. But, it cannot be denied that there are more than a few officers in Philadelphia and the surrounding communities who regularly abuse their power. Whether on purpose or not, they egregiously mistreat the very people they are hired to protect. Just because police have a tough job or a badge does not mean they have the authority to stomp on a person’s civil rights.
Police Brutality Can Cause Permanent Injury and Death
Police brutality continues to be a problem in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. Only recently, a Philadelphia police officer physically and emotionally traumatized a mother and her 2-year-old son in a stunning example of police brutality. The mother has stated that the officer smashed her SUV, physically assaulted her, and separated her from her son during the recent unrest in West Philly.
The mother suffered internal bleeding, had a swollen trachea, and her left had to be placed in a sling due to severe shoulder pain. Her teenage nephew’s hand was shattered during the incident, requiring surgery. Sadly, these types of incidents are not rare. Police brutality can happen to anyone, and when it does, the results can be devastating to innocent Philadelphia residents.
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Types of Police Brutality
Police brutality takes many different forms, and it involves the illegal use of force by the police. The most common forms of police brutality involve the use of excessive force. While law enforcement officers have a right to use some force when it is justified, they cannot use more physical force than necessary to control the situation. In some cases, law enforcement officers beat a suspect unnecessarily, or they use extremely aggressive measures when they could control the situation through verbal means. Police brutality includes the following:
- Unjustified shootings
- Misuse of pepper spray
- Verbal abuse and threats
- Injuries caused by tasers or stun guns
- Beatings that caused the death of the victim
- The use of excessive force
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault, abuse, harassment, or rape
- The death of a suspect in police custody
- Improper imprisonment
- Illegal arrests
For more information, please see:
- Examples of Civil Rights Violations by Police Officers
- What to Do If You Are Assaulted by a Police Office During a Riot
Lawsuits Claiming Excessive Force
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court has extended these protections to unreasonable force used by police officers. Unfortunately, even though law enforcement officers know that they cannot use excessive force, many Philly police officers continue to do so, causing victims serious bodily injuries. We have all heard about the multiple incidents of police brutality in Philadelphia that have led to severe injuries and even death.
If you have experienced an injury due to a police officer’s excessive force, you may be wondering whether or not you can recover compensation for your injuries. You may be wondering whether the police officers were engaged in the use of excessive force in your case. Excessive force by a police officer is unreasonable when the level of force is beyond that which is necessary for the officer to defend himself or herself or to make an arrest. Even when a suspect did commit a crime, police officers cannot subject the suspect to excessive force that causes injuries.
For more information, please see:
- Can You Sue a Police Officer Personally in Pennsylvania?
- What Constitutes an Illegal Search and Seizure?
Police Officers Must Only Use the Amount of Force Necessary to Arrest a Suspect
In many cases, police officers will claim that the suspect was resisting arrest when they used excessive force. However, as we gather evidence, we often discover that the suspect was not resisting and the police officer was not at any risk of harm from the suspect. In that case, the officer does not have a right to use excessive force that causes injury to the suspect. Even if a suspect is resisting arrest, police officers can only use the amount of force they need to protect the public and themselves from injury. For example, if a police officer is a large man, and the suspect is a small older woman, the officer will not need to use too much force to arrest her.
The Use of Deadly Force
In several highly publicized cases, a law enforcement officer will use lethal force against a suspect resisting arrest. The officer typically justifies the force by saying the suspects threatened his or her life. Whether the officer had the right to use deadly force typically becomes the most important issue in cases in which the police officer kills the defendant. Police officers only have a right to use deadly force in a very narrow set of circumstances, such as:
- The police officer was at risk of suffering significant bodily injury or death
- The suspect was attempting to flee from the police, and the law enforcement officer had probable cause to believe that the suspect was a serious threat to the public
Suppose a suspect tries to punch a police officer during an arrest. In that case, the officer does not have the right to use deadly force by shooting the suspect. The deadly force would be disproportionate to the suspect’s use of force. Similarly, if a teenage suspect stole some food from a store and was running away, the police officer likely does not have the right to use deadly force. However, when a suspect pulls a gun out and points it at a police officer, refusing to drop it, the police officer will have more justification for using deadly force.
The Importance of Discussing Your Case With an Experienced Lawyer
The best thing you can do is speak to an experienced police brutality lawyer who will carefully evaluate your case. At Abramson & Denenberg, P.C., we have helped many Philadelphia residents recover compensation in police brutality cases. Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of state and federal laws that prohibit police brutality. Police brutality cases, especially those involving lethal force, are often complicated and require a diligent fact-finding process.
After carefully reviewing your case, we will advise you as to whether you have a case of police brutality or not. If you become injured by a police officer, it is worth taking the time to look into whether you have a valid legal case. Obtaining financial compensation could help you pay for your medical bills and ongoing treatment while securing your family’s financial future. We will advise you of your rights and guide you through every step of the process of filing a police brutality claim.
Contact a Philadelphia Police Brutality Lawyer as Soon as Possible
At Abramson & Denenberg, P.C., we fight for the rights of people who have been mistreated by police. If you or your loved one has been wrongfully arrested, immobilized with a Taser, shot, beaten, or unlawfully prosecuted or imprisoned, call 215-515-6890 as soon as possible to talk to us about your options.
We do not charge victims of police brutality or their families any upfront legal fees. We will only ask you to pay us if we win your case. We have won millions of dollars for our clients who were victims of police misconduct. Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations for filing police brutality claims. If you do not file your case in time, you could lose your ability to file a compensation claim.
We Will Stand Up to the Police for You
Our police brutality practice is led by Alan Denenberg, an experienced trial attorney who once worked as a city solicitor, handling police misconduct cases from the other side. He has an insider’s perspective on how cities defend police brutality claims — and he uses this knowledge to his clients’ advantage. He represents police brutality victims in state and federal courts who suffered severe injuries and have a right to compensation. With a reputation for fighting police brutality cases aggressively, Attorney Denenbirg has secured many high-value verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients.
The people of Philly and the surrounding areas do not have to tolerate police abuse. Police must respect our rights whether we are in our homes, on the streets, or in their custody. When they fail to do so, we step in and help police brutality victims hold them accountable.
Depending on the circumstances and the extent of the injuries involved, victims of police brutality may be entitled to money for their medical expenses, pain, and suffering and lost earnings, and punitive damages, which are meant to punish the officer for his or her actions.
Subjected to Excessive Force? Get a Free Case Review
It is important to act quickly to hold the police responsible for misconduct and abuse. There are strict time limits in place in Pennsylvania, and nationally that can limit your ability to file a claim. Call 215-515-6890 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with one of our lawyers.