Police officers and safety personnel make difficult decisions every day. They balance their personal safety with the safety of those whom they swore to protect. Whether a security guard or a member of the Philadelphia police, these members face off against some dangerous people. Still, officers and security guards make decisions that result in injuries. Sometimes, they are ill-intentioned individuals.
No matter how it happens, sometimes police and security officers use excessive force in the course of their duties. In the event of injury, you may be wondering about your rights. At Freundlich & Littman, LLC, we want you to be fully informed of the rights of both police officer and security personnel. We also want you to be aware of when their rights go too far.
What Is Excessive Force?
There is no universal definition for excessive force. Excessive force depends on the situation. It depends on the environment, the perpetrator, and the local practices of the police and security officers. At a basic level, police officers may only use the amount of force necessary to take control of a situation. For an arrest, the may only use enough force to subdue and restrain the suspect.
If a suspect is fighting the arrest, then the officers must use more force to maintain control. The level of acceptable force is, therefore, raised. For suspects that do not resist arrest, the police are generally not permitted to escalate the level of force.
Without knowing the specific circumstances of an interaction with a police or security officer, it is impossible to know whether the officer used excessive force.
Recovering From Excessive Force Injuries
It is not easy to sue the police. The police are extensions of the state government. As such, there are protections in place for police. As part of their job, the law recognizes a certain level of damage. The theory is that civil penalties would inhibit the police from doing their jobs in an effective manner.
Still, police are only protected within the scope of their employment. Stepping outside of their employment is not protected by the law. For instance, an off-duty police officer cannot claim protection if they engage in a fight in a bar. Furthermore, a police officer cannot go outside the bounds of acceptable force.
As the plaintiff in a civil case, you must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the defendant more likely than not cause your injuries. When it pertains to police officers, you must show that the police officer’s actions caused your injuries. Further, you must show that those injuries could not have resulted from someone else. The more severe the injury, the easier it is to meet the burden of proof.
Security officers also work with the public; however, they are not extensions of the government. Security officers are privately employed. The standard of acceptable force is lower than police officers. This means that they must only use force in situations to protect themselves or others from harm. Likewise, they may use force to protect property.
This includes bouncers, bodyguards, and security officers in a commercial business. Police officers may use deadly force to protect themselves or others from suspects. Other security personnel may not use deadly force unless someone else is threatening deadly force. Law enforcement officers have more protections.
An Excessive Force Lawsuit
If a judge permits a lawsuit to go forward, a plaintiff may sue for excessive force. Unlike a criminal trial, you do not have a right to an attorney. Civil cases are optional, unlike criminal cases. Due to the complexities of the law, it is, therefore, advisable to obtain an attorney to handle your case. An experienced legal team will have the knowledge and expertise to handle personal injury cases.
Once a court dockets the case, the trial process will begin. There is a period of discovery where you will likely give a deposition to the opposing side. A deposition is under the penalty of perjury, but your lawyer may be present during it. Parties exchange documents and information and a court date is set. After the party hashes out initial issues in front of the judge, the case goes before a jury of your peers. Some parties opt for a trial before a judge. Prepare yourself for this possibility.
Excessive Force Lawyers
At Freundlich & Littman, LLC, we represent clients who were victims of excessive force by either police or a security personnel. It is important to know that excessive force is a sensitive issue, without a solid definition. If you think you might be the victim of excessive force, contact legal advice before doing anything. We can help you decide whether to proceed.