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Excessive Force by Law Enforcement

Although law enforcement and corrections officers are permitted to use physical force when necessary to restrain unruly individuals in their custody, there is a limit to the amount of force they are permitted to use. Any amount of force in excess of a reasonably appropriate amount of force is known as excessive force. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the use of excessive force by law enforcement.

When you suffer damages because of an incident that violated your civil rights, you may pursue monetary compensation for these damages through a civil rights violation claim. Work with an experienced civil rights lawyer to learn more about your rights and the process for pursuing compensation after they are violated.

What Constitutes Excessive Force by Law Enforcement?

Many different actions can be considered excessive force. A few examples include:

  • Tasing or beating a suspect who is not resisting arrest;
  • A large, strong officer physically pushing a small person onto the ground with more force than necessary to restrain him or her;
  • Using a weapon against an individual who is not armed and does not pose an immediate safety threat to others;
  • Using force or the threat of force to coax information or a confession out of an individual during questioning; and
  • Using force against an individual who is already in custody.

What are my Rights During Interactions with Law Enforcement?

You have the right to be handled humanely. You also have the right to be informed of your other constitutional rights, like your right to remain silent during interactions and your right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Additionally, you have the right to not be subjected to discriminatory policing and the right to not be held in custody without legal justification to do so.

Ways you Can Suffer from the Use of Excessive Force

When you are subjected to excessive force, you can suffer severe injuries. These include:

  • Broken bones;
  • Cuts;
  • Burns from tasers;
  • Bruising;
  • Scars; and
  • Emotional trauma.

Pursuing Monetary Compensation for your Damages After being Injured by Law Enforcement

Excessive force at the hands of law enforcement is a violation of your civil rights. If you are subjected to excessive force and suffer an injury, physical or mental, as a result, you have the right to pursue monetary compensation for all of your related damages.

There is no objective measure of an appropriate amount of force for an officer to use to subdue and restrain an individual in his or her custody. Rather, officers have the right to use as much force as they deem to be necessary to complete this task. When a victim of alleged excessive force files a lawsuit, the court examines the evidence presented to determine whether the force used was commensurate to the force necessary, or if the officer acted unreasonably. This measure – whether another individual in the same position would have reasonably taken the same action – is what separates excessive force on law enforcement’s part from an appropriate level of force.

Work with an Experienced Riverside Civil Rights Lawyer

Nobody deserves to finish an interaction with law enforcement bleeding, bruised, or suffering from another type of injury. If this is how you ended a recent law enforcement interaction, you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your related damages through a civil rights violation claim. Get started on your case with our team of civil rights lawyers at Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP today by contacting our firm to set up your initial legal consultation.


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