Police officers are required to use the least amount of force necessary to protect themselves and diffuse a situation. Anything above the minimum required force can be considered excessive. When law enforcement officials use excess force, it sometimes constitutes police brutality. In some cases, it is possible to hold the be liable for injuries sustained due to their overzealous attempt to contain a suspect.
Unreasonable or Excessive Force
Here is an example of unreasonable force. An unarmed teenager was shot while he was running from the police. He had been fleeing a house that he had burglarized. State law stated that force could be used to arrest a fleeing suspect; yet, in this particular case, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of excessive force was not justified. The court ruled that excessive force can only be used in one of the following situations:
- When the use of force is necessary to prevent the escape, or
- When the officer has a reason to believe that the suspect can cause them or others serious injury or death.
It is important to note that even if the officer did not use deadly force, the force can still be considered excessive. If a person has suffered minor injuries due to unreasonable force, then an officer can be charged with police brutality.
The Use of Force
The Supreme Court has stated that police can use some degree of threat or physical coercion to arrest someone. The degree of force or coercion must be proportional to the perceived threat. An officer is supposed to use the following methods to diffuse a situation:
- Physical presence. The officer’s presence may stop a person from committing a crime.
- An officer will issue a direct, non-threatening command.
- Empty-hand control. The officer uses punches, kicks, and holds to diffuse a situation.
- Less Lethal Methods. Tasers, batons, and chemical sprays are used to diffuse a situation.
- Lethal Force. The use of a firearm should be the last resort.
What You Can Do If You Have Been a Victim of Police Brutality
If you have suffered injuries from a police officer’s use of excessive force, you can file a civil rights complaint. You can also contact the U.S. Department of Justice and file a complaint. Additionally, you can contact an experienced civil rights attorney who can help you navigate through the court systems and assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.