Steps to Take After You’ve Witnessed Police Brutality

by | Nov 17, 2020 | Police Brutality | 0 comments

Witnesses play a critical role in bringing awareness to the long-standing issue of police brutality. The sad truth is that without bystanders raising their voices, recording video, and providing accounts of these incidents, law enforcement’s use of excessive force would go unnoticed.

Excessive force can entail different things. Ultimately, it comes down to the officer using more force than necessary to apprehend a suspect. Documentation is crucial when calling out state violence. Here’s what you should do if you’ve witnessed police brutality.

Can I Record Police Officers Using Excessive Force?

Smartphones have become a staple in our everyday lives, and many have recorded instances of police brutality. Some videos even receive hundreds of thousands of views online, increasing national awareness.

Before publishing the video online, consider the ramifications of sharing it publicly on your social media accounts. It also may be counterintuitive to share it with police officers. Instead, see if the victim has an attorney and share it with them, or share the video with an advocacy group to determine the next course of action.

Even though this seems all too common of a practice, is it legal? In general, yes. People have a right to record in public places, so you can film an officer who is using excessive force. However, it’s important not to interfere. You could get arrested for obstructing an officer. While recording may not stop the excessive force, the victim’s attorney could use the video as evidence in court.

Other officers may want to stop you from recording by grabbing your phone. Make sure to hold your phone close to your body. Comply with officers if they ask you to step back, and film yourself walking backward as evidence. Most importantly, maintain a safe distance.

Calling 911 Could Be Create More Problems

When witnessing police brutality, people may be inclined to call 911. While calling gives the impression the event was severe enough to warrant a 911 call, it also could be a double-edged sword. If the dispatcher sends more officers to the scene, it’s just as likely the scene will escalate or de-escalate.

Get Identification

It may be hard to get proper identification of officers. However, smartphone cameras produce high-quality images. While one bystander films, another should zoom in to take photos of badges. Badge numbers are beneficial when filing a formal complaint, and chances are officers will not stop to give you their number.

Should You File a Claim After Witnessing Police Brutality?

As a witness to police brutality, it may not be your place to file a complaint on behalf of the victim. However, you can and should file a complaint about police misconduct. Write down the time, date, location of the altercation, and a detailed description of what you witnessed. But do not speculate; stick to the facts. To file your complaint, call the local non-emergency number.

Check in With Your Mental Health

Even though you were not physically hurt during the altercation does not mean you weren’t affected by it. Acknowledge that witnessing violence is traumatic, and allow yourself to feel whatever comes up. You may find yourself feeling fearful or emotionally flooded. Trauma can resonate with you long after an incident, and it may not appear right away. Consider talking to a counseling professional.

Contact the Legal Team at Michigan Legal Center

In Michigan, the attorneys at Michigan Legal Center have been practicing law for more than 20 years. The legal professionals at our office care deeply about each client and believe that no one is more important than the next.

If you or someone you know is a victim of police brutality, you need experienced legal counsel on your side. Our team will work tirelessly to defend you and your rights. Call us today at 1-800-961-8477 or complete our contact form.

Dearborn, MI – Fatal Rear-End Wreck Occurs at Telegraph & Carlysle

Dearborn, MI (September 26, 2023) - Officers from the Dearborn Police Department received a collision alert after a local dentist and father of five was killed in a local accident. The 41-year-old man was involved in a crash on Telegraph and suffered a medical...

Detroit, MI – Injury-Causing Crash on I-75 at McNichols

Detroit, MI (September 26, 2023) - An initial accident alert and notice from the Detroit Police Department states that local police and emergency medical technicians were called to a multiple-vehicle wreck that happened on Tuesday, September 26. The Michigan State...

Detroit, MI – Multi-Vehicle Collision w/Injuries on I-696 at Mound Rd

Detroit, MI (September 26, 2023) - On Tuesday morning, September 26, police were dispatched to a collision involving two to three vehicles in the Detroit metropolitan area. On Tuesday at approximately 5:30 a.m., an accident occurred on eastbound I-696 after the Mound...

Zeeland, MI – Two Injured in Two-Car Wreck on Byron Rd

Zeeland, MI (September 26, 2023) - On Tuesday morning, shortly before dawn, there was an accident between Zeeland and Jamestown that left two people hurt. Deputies and other emergency personnel were called to the intersection of Byron Road and 48th Avenue in Ottawa...

Detroit, MI – I-75 Site of Vehicle Wreck, Injuries at Outer Dr

Detroit, MI (September 26, 2023) - On Tuesday, September 26, at least one person was hurt in a collision involving two or three vehicles traveling north on Interstate 75 in the city of Detroit. An accident happened in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 close to the...

Lowell, MI – Man Killed in Head-on Wreck Near Heim St

Lowell, MI (September 26, 2023) - The Kent County Sheriff's Office has provided further information on the fatal accident that closed a Lowell roadway on Monday afternoon. The incident occurred on Fallasburg Park Road between Heim Street and Lincoln Lake Avenue at...

Detroit, MI – Injury Auto Accident on I-96 at Milford

Detroit, MI (September 26, 2023) - On Tuesday, September 26, during the late afternoon, a collision involving two or three drivers on Interstate 96 in Detroit resulted in at least one injury. The crash happened on westbound I-96 at Milford around 5:30 p.m. When Wayne...

Grand Rapids, MI – One Dead, Others Hurt in I-96 Accident at M-6

Grand Rapids, MI (September 26, 2023) - One person is dead following a crash on I-96 in Grand Rapids. Officers say that the crash happened Tuesday west of Michigan Highway 6. According to the Michigan State Police, a pickup truck, driven by a 28-year-old woman, was...

Detroit, MI – Auto Accident, Injuries on M-39 at I-96

Detroit, MI (September 25, 2023) - At least one person was hurt in a crash involving two or three vehicles that occurred on Highway 39 in Detroit on Monday, September 25. The incident occurred around 5:30 p.m. on southbound M-39 following I-96. The scene of the...

Detroit, MI – Truck Wreck, Rollover Causes Injury on 18 Mile at Van Dyke

Detroit, MI (September 25, 2023) - Officers from the Detroit Police Department received a collision alert and an injury report at the site of a truck rollover and vehicle collision on 18 Mile Road on Monday, September 25. An accident happened on 18 Mile at Van Dyke...