When police use excessive force and commit acts of police brutality, there should be consequences. Who is held liable for a victim’s harm?
The history of police violence, particularly against Black people and people of color in our communities, is not a favorable one. In the public eye now more than ever before, police brutality, excessive use of force, and sometimes even police killings are major problems plaguing our police forces and our communities. When police brutality occurs, it is important for victims and their families to understand their rights, as well as who they can hold liable for civil damages. Here is an overview of what you should know about police brutality and liability in New Jersey.
What is Police Brutality?
Police brutality refers to a situation in which a police officer or a group of police officers violates a subject’s rights by exercising undue or excessive force. Excessive force means a level of force that is beyond the minimum amount necessary to protect themselves from harm. Police brutality may also refer to situations where police engage in other human rights violations, such as beatings, unlawful killings, and excessive force in an attempt to control riots and protests.
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The Devastating Effects of Police Brutality
When police use excessive force or otherwise act violently against individuals, groups, or communities, the effects are serious and devastating. Those who are direct victims of police brutality may suffer serious injuries, including permanently disabling or fatal injuries in some cases. For those who suffer serious harm, economic and noneconomic losses may follow. Those who are victims of this harm, and their family members, deserve to be compensated.
Who is Liable for Police Brutality?
In the state of New Jersey, police officers have what is known as qualified immunity (something that many states are starting to do away with). This means that police officers are shielded from liability in the event that they commit a constitutional violation, such as police brutality/excessive use of force. There have been calls on Governor Murphy to end police brutality in New Jersey.
Recently, in a 4-3 ruling, New Jersey Supreme Court justices did withhold qualified immunity for an officer who shot a man who claimed he was surrendering at the time of being shot. This decision may set a precedent for officers who use excessive force or engage in police brutality in the future.
While it is not impossible to sue the police, it is difficult. You will need an experienced attorney on your side who knows what evidence will need to be presented and how to make a compelling case. In some cases, a police officer may face criminal as well as civil charges.
Call Lomurro Law Today
If you are a victim of police brutality or if your loved one has been killed or severely injured at the hands of the police, you may have a civil lawsuit for damages. To learn more about your right to bring forth a civil claim against a police officer or a police department following police brutality or excessive use of force, please call our law firm today. We have years of experience and can support you as you navigate the claims process. Reach out to us today by phone or online to get started.