Civil rights claims alleging police misconduct have garnered substantial attention over the past few weeks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest.
Civil Rights Claims:
The purpose of the nation’s civil rights laws is to protect its citizens from abuses by the government, including police misconduct. A primary purpose of civil rights claims, in particular, is to redress and to correct abuses by the police department. While police officers have broad powers to carry out their functions, the United States Constitution, as well as other federal and state statutes place strict limits on their conduct.
The vast majority of police officers carry out their functions reasonably and effectively within established law. However, these strict limits on their conduct have been stretched to the breaking point by a small percentage of the police force, resulting in civil lawsuits brought against municipalities and individual members of the police department for redress under federal and state law.
Civil rights laws encourage the pursuit of civil rights claims and the correction of such abuses by awarding attorney fees and compensatory and punitive damages to injured parties who prevail in their claims.
One recent development in this area of practice has been the prevalence of video surveillance of police actions, including body cams, traffic cams, and conventional commercial surveillance. Years ago, cases were brought based on civilian witness complaints, which would generally place the credibility of the offending officers and their colleagues against the reports by civilian witnesses, rendering these cases very difficult. Now, however, early reports of police misconduct will often result in obtaining substantial video surveillance, especially if the misconduct is quickly reported.
A good example is a recent surveillance video obtained by this firm immediately following a police arrest of our client which shows our client being purposely struck and crushed by a motor vehicle operated by a Nassau County or NYPD undercover officer in Corona, Queens. Watch the video below.
Because the case was brought to our firm shortly after the incident, our investigators were able to obtain the surveillance video which depicts this potentially deadly assault on our client who was subsequently hospitalized with severe trauma, requiring surgery. We can only hesitate to guess how this accident might have been reported by the officers involved, absent this video surveillance.
Halperin & Halperin, P.C. regularly handles cases involving violations of Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Action of 1871, false arrest, malicious prosecution, unreasonable/excessive force claims, as well as conventional assault and battery claims, involving police officers acting under the authority of state law.
Civil rights claims are an important part of our legal system, providing a balance between the duty of law enforcement to uphold the laws, and the rights of individuals to be free from police misconduct. Yet cases against police officers can be difficult. If you feel you’ve been the victim of police misconduct, contact Halperin & Halperin, P.C. promptly so that valuable evidence can be promptly obtained and preserved.