NYPD police brutality lawyers are finding it easier than ever to pursue complaints made against law enforcement officers regarding violent misconduct. As more citizens carry camera phones and other recording technology, the available evidence for New York police misconduct lawsuits has increased significantly, making it far more likely that a victim of police brutality will secure justice. Police brutality is a serious breach of contract between the public and those given the power to ‘protect and serve’ them.
While the majority of law enforcement officers work hard to keep their communities safe, there are always individuals who buckle under the stress of the job, or submit to the corrupting temptations of power, and commit serious criminal acts on duty. This breach of trust can result in life threatening injuries, permanent disability and even death. Victims of New York police misconduct often suffer depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, even after their physical wounds have healed. NYPD police brutality lawyers can help them pursue the compensation they are entitled to through the legal system.
What constitutes police brutality?
‘Police brutality’ refers to any illegal act that crosses the line between reasonable force and excessive force, before, during or after an arrest. Typical cases of police brutality include:
- Police misconduct
- Abuse of power
- Excessive force
- Sexual assault or rape
- Misuse of police weaponry, including stun guns and tasers
Studies suggest that most cases of New York police misconduct go unreported. Victims fear that they will not be believed, or will suffer retribution if they file a complaint. This allows the same officers to repeat the same violations again.
What are the causes of police brutality?
Because of the expectations placed on the profession, and the mechanisms that legally allow officers to use force, it’s all too easy for police work to stray from the business of maintaining order into an unaccountable authoritarian culture. This culture prevents the overwhelmingly decent elements of the NYPD to report their fellow officers for crimes against citizens. According to some NYPD police brutality lawyers, internal investigations are frequently ineffectual, rarely leading to disciplinary action. Public mistrust of law enforcement increases, leading to further tension and additional burdens on the justice system.
Who is accountable for police misconduct?
Using experienced NYPD police brutality lawyers to file civil lawsuits against law enforcement agencies has often resulted in multi-million dollar payouts to victims and their families. It is an imperfect form of justice, as the city – rather than the officer in question – is usually responsible for settling, and such trials rarely result in procedural changes or address flawed policies or management. However, for most victims of New York police misconduct, a civil lawsuit is the only recourse available. Under Title 42 U.S. Code Section 1983 (the federal civil rights statute), citizens can file lawsuits against a police department, a jurisdiction, or a specific officer. Section 1983 mandates that: “Any person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.”
Successful New York police misconduct cases
Over the last 10 years, nearly $1 billion has been paid to settle claims against the NYPD, mostly relating to police brutality and excessive force. According to the city’s Comptroller, the amount of “citywide police action claims” rose from nearly 2,500 to just over 4,500 between 2007 and 2011 – an increase of around 80%. The amount spent by the city on settlements more than doubled during the same period, rising from $25.5 million to nearly $60 million. In some cases, the same officers are sued multiple times, which is indicative of the small, but dangerous, minority responsible for misconduct. In the past three years, a sergeant in Brooklyn has been sued no less than seven times for excessive force and brutality. His transgressions cost the city at least $188,250. A narcotics detective was the target of at least six suits, resulting in payouts totalling $103,000. In both cases, the city did not admit any wrongdoing, and neither of the officers faced criminal charges or were dismissed from the force. Police brutality lawyers have helped victims recover several multi-million dollar payouts in recent years, including:
- $3.25 million to the family of Sean Bell, an unarmed man shot dead by police on his wedding day. Additionally, the city paid a total of $3.9 million to two of Bell’s guests who were wounded in the 50-bullet police barrage.
- $6 million to Wilson Ramos, a bystander shot in the head and partially paralyzed during a police gunfight with a suspect.
NYPD police brutality lawyers can protect your rights
If you’ve been the victim of New York police misconduct, a civil rights attorney can explain your rights. They have numerous tools at their disposal to help you pursue compensation, including ordering the internal affairs file on the officer involved to see if a pattern of criminal behavior can be established. NYPD police brutality lawyers can also order surveillance tapes from the area where the incident took place, secure witness contact information and help you preserve any physical evidence of the attack. The Sanders Firm offers more than 40 years expertise in helping victims secure damages through police misconduct lawsuits. For a free consultation, call toll-free 1.800 FAIR PLAY.