In recent months, the subject of police brutality has come up a lot in the news. The tragic deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, among other unarmed citizens, has led many members of the public to questions the use of lethal force among police officers. While no doubt there are plenty of life-threatening situations that members of law enforcement face everyday, there are also other situations where excessive force is used whether a person has been wrongly accused of a crime or not.
What most people don’t know is that police brutality actually falls into the category of police misconduct, which is a fairly broad term. Misconduct by law officers can include anything from verbal intimidation tactics all the way to the beatings and even deaths of suspects. Whether you suspect you’ve been the victim of police misconduct or you’d like to know your legal rights, here are some of the basics on what this category entails:
Verbal and non-verbal misconduct: Some forms of misconduct from police come in the form of verbal abuse or intimidation. Most commonly, an officer may coerce a victim into making a false confession or plant false evidence on that person. Intimidation tactics and racial profiling also count as misconduct. For some officers, they may be found guilty of misconduct if they commit perjury, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the job, abuse their power to obtain favors or discounts, or violate other policies for their departments, regardless of whether members of the public are present or not.
Physical misconduct: Physical police misconduct tends to be more overt, and it may be easier to see evidence of it. The most obvious form of this misconduct is police brutality, which can include physical beatings, tasering, shootings, and other use of force. However, this may also include witness tampering, such as if an officer deletes a video recording from a person’s phone without their consent. Witness tampering tries to alter or prevent the evidence by witnesses and those who are charged; despite what an officer may tell you, you are within your legal right to record police interactions so long as you are not interfering in a crime scene or obstructing justice.
If you suspect that you have encountered misconduct by police officers, be sure to speak with a civil rights lawyer or other attorney in this field. At the very least a meeting with an attorney will help you understand these difficult legal issues, and you may be able to pursue action.
Have more questions about this topic? Get in touch with a qualified lawyer or leave a comment below. Helpful info also found here.