Police misconduct covers a wide array of activities, but frequently involves police brutality and the use of excessive force in violation of state law and the United States Constitution.
Excessive force is the application or use of force beyond what is reasonable under the circumstances from an objective standpoint.
Excessive force violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Oklahoma state law. In determining whether an officer used excessive force, his subjective opinion is not relevant.
When analyzing excessive force questions, courts generally examine the following factors: (1) the severity of the crime at issue, (2) whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and (3) whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to flee.
Excessive force issues arise in a variety of circumstances, but the most common involve citizen encounters with police officers. Excessive force issues may also arise in the context of jails and prisons.
Excessive Force in Jails and Prisons
In the jail and prison setting, excessive force may involve employees of a governmental entity, or it may involve employees of a private prison management company. Regardless of the employer, in the jail or prison setting the same rules apply regarding excessive force.
Examples of excessive force can include physical assaults using arms and elbows, kicking, hitting, tactical moves such as arm-bar techniques, neck holds, and pressure points, the use of less lethal weapons such as batons, asps, rods, pepper or OC spray, rubber bullets, electronic controlled devices, e.g., Taser’s, and electrified shields, the use of various forms of restraints including handcuffing, hog-tying, restraint chairs, the use of lethal weapons, including firearms, canines, and patrol cars.
Courts have also held that excessive force may be found as a result of the officer’s actions, like unnecessarily charging at an armed suspect who harbored suicidal ideations.
Excessive force is a serious violation of the U.S. Constitution that can result in substantial injuries.
Investigating excessive force claims requires a firm understanding of law enforcement techniques and the policies and procedures that regulate the use for force.
It is also critical to understand the various training practices to evaluate whether the use of force resulted from an officer exercising poor judgment, or whether the use of force resulted from inadequate training.
Claims for unlawful arrest typically arise where the police lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make an arrest. These claims may arise where the police manufacture evidence or testimony in an attempt to justify a bad arrest, or one that lacked the probable cause required by the Fourth Amendment.
For the victim of an unlawful arrest, the consequences can range anywhere from a detention lasting a few hours, to the most extreme cases where a victim is wrongfully tried, convicted and sentenced to prison.
To establish a civil claim for damages, a victim is required to show that the police lacked what is called “arguable” probable cause. This means the arrest must be “objectively unreasonable” based upon the facts known to the police at the time of the arrest, even if the police were mistaken as to the true nature of the facts before them.
Claims for unlawful arrest will generally exist where the police violate well-established law. For this reason, it is critical that your attorney have a firm understanding of the applicable law.
The attorneys at Bryan & Terrill are leaders in the community in not only understanding existing law, but creating new law as well which created civil rights for Oklahomans under the state constitution.
Assistance with Police Misconduct or Police Brutality Claims
The attorneys at Bryan & Terrill are uniquely qualified to represent the victims of police misconduct because we formerly represented law enforcement agencies and individual officers in state and federal court.
Today, we use that experience to help victims of police misconduct to vindicate the deprivation of rights secured by the Constitution and Oklahoma state law.
If you have questions about excessive force, or if you or a loved one are the victim of police misconduct, do not hesitate to contact us at 918-935-2777.