Police brutality is a frequent topic of interest in the media, but many people believe these types of situations occur rarely. However, there are many reasons why police brutality is a much larger and systematic problem instead of just a case of a “few bad eggs.” Often these issues arise due to poor training of police officers by their departments. Accidents happen when people or professionals do not properly know how to handle a situation.
What is Police Brutality?
Police brutality is when a police officer or government official uses excessive force or unreasonable force on an individual or individuals. Excessive force occurs in any situation where a government official who is allowed to use force against other people uses too much force for that situation. A police officer is allowed to use force as long as it is reasonably necessary, or in simpler terms, the situation requires it. Excessive force occurs when there is no reason for force, or the force used by the government official escalated to an inappropriate level.
How to Get Help
If you are a victim of police brutality, then your constitutional and civil rights have been violated. If this has happened to you then you have the right to seek justice, which can be done in a few ways.
First, consider filing a complaint with the United States Department of Justice. Depending on your situation, they might investigate further.
A second option is filing a civil rights complaint. This can be done under section 1983 of the United States Code. A 1983 civil rights action allows average people to sue the federal government and/or its state-level departments, including police departments for civil rights violations. If you win, the court may award you damages (money).
Police Brutality in Bridgeport, Connecticut
There are many examples of police brutality cases in Bridgeport, Connecticut that led to average people suing individual Bridgeport police officers and/or the Bridgeport police department. Here are some examples of past or current pending cases below:
- An individual sued several Bridgeport police officers and the city of Bridgeport for excessive use of force. Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 140 (2d Cir. 1999). According to this source, Bridgeport police officers shot at the individual several times while trying to arrest him for threatening to burn down another individual’s home on September 1, 1993. The individual received multiple gunshot wounds and subsequently fell down the stairs, rendering him a paraplegic. There was a dispute between the police officers and the individual about whether the individual had threatened one of the police officers with a knife or if police had just fired at the individual unprovoked. The Second Circuit Court, a federal court, found in favor of the individual’s desire to bring the case to trial and against the defendants’ (police officers) argument that this case should not be decided by a jury because there were no material facts in dispute. The Court ruled the case should be tried in front of a jury and it was up to the jury to decide which version of events to believe, either the officers’ or the individual’s version.
- Bridgeport officers are currently being sued for using excessive force against University of Bridgeport students when one of their parties was reported for rowdiness in October 2017. The source says that several students claim police officers used excessive physical force including shoving their heads into parked cars, slamming them into the ground and being punched or kicked by officers.
- A Bridgeport man was awarded $323,000 by a jury in May 2017 against police when he claimed officers used excessive force to arrest him on charges that were later dropped. The event took place four years earlier in May 2013. According to this source, the man alleged that police officers tasered him and hit him in the eye even though he had not provoked them in anyway.
If you want to file a complaint, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer. A lawyer can help you through the process, review your situation, and help you build the strongest case. The majority of federal police brutality cases never make it to trial, but by hiring a lawyer you are giving yourself the best chance for justice. You can contact our office at 203-925-9200 for more information.