Police brutality has recently become a hot topic in the media. While many do not want to believe that police brutality exists, it is an unfortunate reality. Often, excessive force and police brutality 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 happens when police use excessive force or unreasonable force on an individual. And what is excessive force? This occurs in any situation where a government official uses too much force for the given situation. A police officer is allowed to use force if 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.
What Happens Next?
If you believe that you have experienced police brutality, then your constitutional and civil rights have been violated. You have the right to seek justice, which can be done in a few ways.
First, you can file a complaint with the United States Department of Justice. Depending on your case, they might investigate further.
A second option is filing a civil rights complaint. This can happen under section 1983 of the United States Code. A 1983 civil rights action allows average people to sue the federal government and/or state-level departments for civil rights violations. This includes suing police officers. If you win the court may award you compensation in the form of money.
Police Brutality in New Haven, Connecticut
There are many examples of police brutality cases in New Haven, Connecticut that led to average people suing either individual New Haven police officers and/or the New Haven police department. Here are some examples of past or current pending cases below;
- A male immigrant received 20,000 dollars in a settlement against the New Haven police department after he alleged a police officer had used excessive physical force by slamming his face against the car after he had been pulled over for speaking on his cell phone.
- In December 2017, a New Haven man was tasered and arrested by police in a convenience store for not producing his identification card fast enough. According to the source linked in the previous sentence, the New Haven Police Chief admitted to news stations that the video in the store showed the officers did not follow training. The charges for the arrest of the New Haven man were later dropped.
- A New Haven man sued the New Haven and East Haven police department for alleging that officers broke his collarbone in a 2009 arrest. The source linked in the previous sentence says that the individual received a 15,000-dollar settlement. But, the defendant’s attorney maintained the individual’s injuries were caused because he fled the scene of an accident. In January 2012, two of the officers involved in the incident were charged with biased policing in the Latino community. One of the officers pled guilty to a lesser charge of racial profiling and served four months in prison. The other officer took his case to trial and was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.
- An internal investigation was conducted for a New Haven police officer for the ninth time after a man filed a complaint that the officer choked him and tasered him while he was handcuffed.
- An individual brought a lawsuit against the City of New Haven and an individual New Haven officer for 1983 civil rights violations. Beckford v. City of New Haven, No. 3:11 – cv – 498, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142737, at *1 (D. Conn. Dec. 12, 2011). This source claims that the plaintiff alleged that the officer threw her onto a fence. The officer hurt her arm while handcuffing her after she told him she had already answered all the other officers questions. She also alleged that she informed said officer about her injured arm but was denied medical attention until the transport officer noticed her arm swelling. A federal judge dismissed the claim against the City of New Haven because they were not liable under the federal statute for the officer’s action. But, they allowed her to move forward in her claim against the officer for excessive force.
- In 2014, a New Haven man was awarded a $15,000 settlement for an East Haven and New Haven police brutality lawsuit. The incident occurred in 2009. According to the article referenced at the beginning of this paragraph, the man alleges he was attacked and repeatedly struck in the head and upper body by police after he had already raised his hands and said he was having a heart attack. The man suffered cuts to his face, head, neck and shoulder. The police also tasered him while they allegedly assaulted him.
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 us at 203-925-9200 for more information.