Excessive Force

Injured by Police during your Arrest?

Police brutality or “excessive force” are serious topics. Your injury could be even the slightest scratch or bruise, but if it was committed against you illegally, you may have a civil rights claim against the officers who hurt you.

What kinds of force can be excessive?

The following are only a few examples where police force that is used can be considered excessive depending on the circumstances:

– Offensive/Aggressive Touching or pushing

– Punches or Kicks

– Use of Canines (Police Dog)

– Pepper spray/Mace

– Handcuffs

– Hog-tying

– Tazers

– Beanbags

– Gunshots

Were you detained or under arrest?

To fully appreciate what equates to being “excessive”, you must first determine if you were a person “at liberty”.

A person who is “at liberty” is one who is not in jail or prison. But in seeking a claim against police for excessive force, you must first show that you were being “seized” by the officer or officers. This is what’s called a Fourth Amendment standard. Graham v. Conner (1989) 490 U.S. 386, Acevedo v. Canterbury (7th Circ. 2006) 457 F.3d 721.

The Court in Brower v. County of Inyo established that “seizure” occurs when there is an “intentional acquisition of physical control” which occurs “only when there is a governmental termination of freedom of movement through means intentionally applied.” 489 U.S. 596, 597.

What is Excessive?

Even a slight injury may be sufficient to show you were a victim of excessive force under the Fourth Amendment standard.

Broken bones and serious injuries, even death are all obvious injuries. But if the injury is a slap in the face, a punch in the stomach, handcuffs that are placed too tightly, or a small cut or bruise—all of these can be considered excessive or unreasonable under the circumstances.

Therefore, no physical injury is required if you have been beaten for no reason.

As you may see from the complexity of excessive force law, a thorough and detailed discussion of your case with an experienced attorney may be necessary.

To schedule an appointment, contact our office.