We trust the police to protect us, and they have broad powers to carry out their official duties. Unfortunately, police misconduct and abuse are more common than you might think. They can arise out of intentional or reckless behavior that breaches a police officer's duty to execute New York law. When law enforcement misconduct results in serious injuries, disability or death, it may be possible to hold the police and the municipality accountable. The injuries are not always just physical. They may include humiliation, a criminal record, and lost job opportunities as well. At Phillips & Associates, our tenacious civil rights lawyers pursue justice for New York City residents who have been injured or killed by police misconduct. We can help you seek damages from an individual officer and potentially the municipality that employed him or her.Common Forms of Police Misconduct
Police misconduct includes false arrest, stop and frisk abuses, racial profiling, police shootings, police brutality, police assault and battery, police raids, excessive force, and illegal vehicle stops. These abuses may be compensated or addressed through a civil lawsuit brought pursuant to The Civil Rights Act of 1871, which is codified in 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides a mechanism to pursue relief when a United States citizen is deprived of Constitutional rights and privileges by a state or local government.
Three elements must be met in a Section 1983 claim. First, you will need to show that the rights granted to you under the U.S. Constitution or a federal statute were violated by another person. The person can be a police officer, but the definition of "person" can also include a city or municipality. Anybody involved in the police misconduct can be named if he or she directly participated in the misconduct, knew about the misconduct but did nothing to stop it, hired unqualified people or improperly trained them, or created a policy that furthered the misconduct.
The second element is that the police misconduct must have occurred while the law enforcement officer was acting under color of state law. This means that the police officer was acting with the state's authority or as a representative of the state, not as a private citizen. The third element is that the misconduct must have deprived you of a Constitutional or federal statutory right, immunity, or privilege.
For example, in a false arrest case, you would have to show that the police had a lack of probable cause to arrest you and arrested you anyway. Probable cause is the existence of facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe a crime had already occurred, was ongoing, or imminent. People arrested without probable cause are deprived of their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Often, those who are falsely arrested are humiliated by the experience. In some cases, police officers intimidate the victim of the false arrest or create a damaging criminal record that has consequences for the victim's ability to get a job.Discuss an Incident of Police Misconduct with a New York City Lawyer
Police misconduct can result in severe injuries or a wrongful death. Sometimes the city and its employees may protect a law enforcement officer or trump up charges in order to avoid accountability. It is important to act quickly and consult a knowledgeable civil rights attorney if you have been the victim of excessive force or other police misconduct in New York City. At Phillips & Associates, we offer experienced representation for those whose rights have been infringed in all five boroughs, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or set up an appointment through our online form.