Excessive Force

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“Don’t tase me, bro!”

This simple, amusing phrase has become a mainstay of American pop culture and vocabulary.  Police officers have a difficult and dangerous job, acting as a front-line defense against criminality to protect us from those who break our laws.  Most officers serve honorably behind their badges with respect for the citizens they are sworn to protect.  But when an officer goes too far and abuses the power of his baton instead of the power of his shield, where can you turn for protection?

Under federal law, any police officer (city or state) acting “under color of law”– as opposed to the officer acting as an individual on his own behalf – may be held liable for any violation of a person’s Constitutional civil rights.  Courts look at the officer’s specific behavior and try to determine whether the use of force was “reasonable.”  In the law, the term “reasonable” has a specific meaning; would a reasonable law enforcement officer in the same situation have believed that the use of force was necessary and that the amount of force used was appropriate[1]?  Even in jail or in prison, guards must act as officers of the law and must respect your rights against excessive force.  The most important aspect of this type of case is the nature of the force – not the extent of the injury.  If you believe the police used excessive force in dealing with you, you may be able to collect, even if the injuries you received as a result were only “minor.”

If you have been the victim of excessive force by a police officer, you may be able to collect:

  1. Monetary loss;
  2. Damages relating to emotional and mental distress;
  3. Punitive damages;
  4. Interest; and/or
  5. Attorney’s fees and costs.

In addition, you may seek non-monetary relief, such as:

  1. Injunction; or
  2. Declarative judgment.

Some people may not take you seriously when you are the victim of excessive force by law enforcement, but abuse of authority by a police or correctional officer is not a laughing matter.  If you feel that an officer crossed the thin blue line and used excessive force against you, you need to call an aggressive, experienced and proven trial lawyer – Vince Colella.  You can reach Mr. Colella at his toll free number 1.800.MUSTWIN or at 248.945.0100.

[1] Marcilis v. Redford Twp., 757 F. Supp. 2d 663 (E.D. Mich. 2010).

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