Police officers who use excessive force in detaining, arresting or otherwise interacting with a civilian may be held accountable for their civil rights violations, along with the government agency that employs these officers. Police are often trained on the best methods for interacting with a suspect and the appropriate policies and procedures for detaining a suspect or making an arrest. However, officers who commit police misconduct can be found to have violated both the law and the policies and procedures of their police department. These departmental policies may also be found to be constitutionally deficient in many respects. Police are trained to use only the amount of force necessary, unfortunately they do not always adhere to these guidelines. If you believe you or someone you know has been assaulted by the police, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit to recover financial compensation and other remedies based on your case.
Our office has extensive experience in evaluating civil rights violations, bringing federal civil claims against problematic cities and police officers, and holding them accountable for their actions.
What are some examples of excessive force and constitutional violations?
Depending on your case and the state in which you were injured, courts have found that certain conduct by police officers may constitute a violation of your civil rights. Some examples may include:
- The use of a taser during an arrest
- Assaulting a suspect while he or she is handcuffed
- Officers who attempt to stop video recording of their actions in public
- Shooting a suspect who is fleeing
- Shooting at a moving vehicle
- Shooting household animals or pets
- Punching, kicking or choking a suspect during detainment or arrest
Understanding Excessive Force
Excessive force occurs when law enforcement officers use more physical or lethal force than is reasonably necessary to carry out their duties. This can result in severe physical and emotional harm to individuals, eroding the trust between communities and law enforcement agencies. In Texas, as elsewhere, excessive force is a violation of civil rights and is taken very seriously by both the legal system and public opinion.
Steps to Take as a Victim: If you believe you have been a victim of excessive force by police officers in Texas, consider taking the following steps:
- Document the Incident: As soon as it’s safe to do so, write down or record your recollection of the incident. Include details such as location, time, officers involved, and what transpired.
- Gather Evidence: If possible, gather any available evidence, such as photographs, videos, or witness contact information. This evidence can be crucial in building your case.
- Seek Medical Attention: If you sustained injuries, seek medical attention immediately. Detailed medical records can serve as evidence of the physical harm inflicted.
- File a Complaint: Contact the relevant law enforcement agency’s internal affairs division to file a formal complaint. Be sure to document your complaint number and any interactions with the agency.
- Consult an Attorney: Contact a civil rights attorney who specializes in police misconduct cases. They can guide you through the legal process and help you understand your options.
- Know Your Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with Texas laws and regulations related to police conduct and excessive force. This knowledge can empower you during legal proceedings.
- Stay Cautious on Social Media: Avoid discussing the incident on social media platforms, as it could potentially harm your case. Let your attorney handle communication with the media or public.
What would a civil lawsuit against the police and the government entity that employs them look like?
Each case presents its own unique facts and circumstances. However, our office typically brings a federal lawsuit against officers who commit misconduct and the agencies that employ them through 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, which is generally known as a “Section 1983 lawsuit.” Officers who commit excessive force or other constitutional violations may be held liable under Section 1983 for their misconduct. These officers are also frequently entitled to what is known as “qualified immunity,” which generally protects officers from liability in cases where the law is not clearly established about whether a certain type of conduct is illegal. Our office has extensive experience bringing these lawsuits into court and contesting qualified immunity to ensure there is full accountability for injuries you may have suffered. You may be entitled to monetary compensation for these injuries, including compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Every case involving excessive force is different. To find out if your situation qualifies you to take legal action against the police, please contact our office in Dallas to schedule a consultation, or send us a message from the form below.