Police brutality is an umbrella term covering different types of crimes that the police does against civilians. Although the US government has several laws to curb police brutality, not many civilians are aware of their rights.
In this blog post, we give an overview of the forms of police brutality and the laws passed to protect the rights of civilians.
Forms of Police Brutality
Though the police has the right to use force to arrest criminals, if it goes beyond what is required, it can be seen as an act of brutality.
False Arrest or Malicious Prosecution
A false arrest or prosecution by a police officer for a crime that the accused did not commit could be an act of brutality.
The police should target all criminals without paying attention to the race. If the officer targets specific race (Hispanic, African American or others), it is a case of police brutality.
Verbal, Sexual or Psychological Abuse
The police officer taking illegal or abusive action against civilians could be held under police brutality law.
Failure to Intervene
If one of the two officers breaks the law and the other one is a mute spectator, this could also be a form of police brutality. Both the officers will be held responsible for the offense.
Laws Passed Against Police Brutality
The fourth amendment provides freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The Supreme Court believes that term “reasonable” could mean a different amount of force in a different situation, so the police officer should avoid excessive force.
The fourteenth amendment states – “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The due process clause gives citizens the right to appear before the judiciary.
There is a limit on the situation a police officer can use force to protect themselves, public order or other citizens. The police can use force only when a citizen does not cooperate and is disobeying public order.
Civil Rights Act of 1871
Initially written to protect African-Americans, later amended for any person of color, the Civil Rights Act of 1871 sees any interference with the rights guaranteed by the constitution as illegal. While fourth and fourteenth amendments limit the use of force, this act is useful in event of police brutality.
Filing Complaint Against Police Officer
To file a complaint, one has to visit the website of the police department in question and fill out the complaint form. Some police departments also have hotlines to report any misconduct by police. You can also make a complaint in-person at the police department. It is always better to file the complaint quickly after the incident, as some jurisdictions might have time restrictions for reporting the misconduct.
If, at any point in time, you feel there’s a need of a personal injury or civil rights lawyer to represent your case, get in touch with the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas. Our team can provide a consultation and connect you with the right attorney in Austin, TX, if needed. For more information, simply call 512-472-8303, toll-free (866) 303-8303, or online by filling out our contact us form here.