Suing Law Enforcement for Excessive Force Claims: Easier Said Than Done

When a law enforcement officer abuses his authority and uses excessive force in an arrest or detention of a suspect, legally, the victim of such excessive force faces some very significant legal hurdles in seeking redress for any injuries caused by the excessive force. What we refer to here is known as the doctrine of qualified immunity. Simply stated, as long as a law enforcement official is acting within the scope of his discretionary authority, he/she essentially has immunity for his acts unless he clearly violates established legal precedent concerning the propriety of his/her conduct. Whether such a violation is proven is determined by an objective analysis of the facts from the standpoint of a reasonable officer. If a reasonable officer would have objectively used the same degree of force, then there is no legal liability, even if someone is shot and killed.
There are many complex variables that one must consider in handling an excessive force case against a police officer. Whether the doctrine of qualified immunity does or does not apply is a factually specific inquiry. While the hurdle is high for a victim of excessive force to overcome, it is not an impossible burden to meet. Even if an officer is acting within the scope of his authority and is exercising discretion, if his actions are objectively unreasonable and result in unreasonable and unnecessary injury to a third party, legal claims can be brought and can be sustained.
Any person who claims to be a victim of the excessive use of force should confer with counsel as soon as possible. The issues are, again, factually specific and legally complex which necessitates a in-depth investigation of what the facts were at the time of the use of force. This too can be a difficult undertaking because the police are likely to provide a version of events most favorable to their position and the victim oftentimes is not believed simply because he/she is the alleged criminal suspect in many of these cases: All the more reason for counsel to be conferred with as soon as possible in the context of any of these cases.

Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information