Our personal injury lawyers represent victims of police beatings, shootings, and other types of abuse.  The majority of police officers act in accordance with required procedures when making an arrest or investigating a complaint. However, there are still many instances of brutality and physical harm being reported daily.

Lately, the of police body cameras and witness cell phone videos have made these incidents public on both the internet and broadcast television news. Therefore, if you or a loved one was injured by an officer of the law, you can benefit from working with a Michigan police brutality lawyer on your case.

police brutality lawyer in Michigan

What is Considered Police Brutality?

Police brutality is the use of excessive physical force by a police officer or other law enforcement official.  It is essentially the use of force beyond what is reasonably necessary to arrest, apprehend, or question a suspect or any other person.  This behavior is similar to an assault and battery by a private individual. Police do not have the authority to unreasonably injure people simply because they have a badge and a uniform.

Common Examples of Misconduct

  • Shooting of unarmed people and those presenting no danger
  • Excessive use of force, such as punching, suffocating, and other blunt force
  • Use of equipment, like flashlights and clubs to cause injury
  • Wrongful arrest, false arrest and unlawful imprisonment
  • Unnecessary use of TASER or Stun Guns
  • Placing handcuffs on too tightly causing nerve damage
  • Sexual assaults
  • Threats and intimidation

Police Shooting Statistics

It is clear that there is a problem with police shootings in Michigan, as well as around the country. While there seems to be a new story making headlines every week, the statistics on police shootings are just as alarming.

  • As of July 10, 2019, there had already been 480 people shot and killed by police.
  • In 2018, police shot and killed 1,166 people throughout the country.
  • 2018’s statistics were an increase from 2017, when 1,147 people were shot and killed by police.
  • In 2017, 25 percent of those shot and killed by police were African-American, even though they make up only 13 percent of the nation’s population.
  • African-Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police than Caucasians.
  • 30 percent of the African-American victims killed by police in 2015 were unarmed. 21 percent of Caucasians were unarmed when killed by police in the same year.
  • In 2018, there were only 23 days in the entire calendar year that police did not shoot and kill someone.
  • 13 of the 100 largest police departments in the country shoot and kill African-Americans at higher rates than the murder rate for the entire country. These police departments include those in Reno, Santa Ana, Scottsdale, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and Spokane.
  • Law enforcement often states these shootings are necessary to stop crime. However, in 2014, over two-thirds of African-Americans shot and killed by police were not suspected of a crime or armed at the time of their death.
  • 99 percent of police shootings do not result with the officer being convicted of a crime.

There are potential solutions to the increasing number of police shootings. In fact, these have already been a number of police departments that have use of force policies. Sadly, the majority of police departments around the country today do not have these policies, and officers are rarely held accountable.

Pursuing a Case against a Police Department

Lawsuits for police brutality typically include claims for violations of both federal and state laws.  Many suits are filed in federal courts due to constitutional violations and civil rights violations.  These include federal violations of:

  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which states that peace officers who subject any U.S. resident to “the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” may be held civilly liable for those injuries.
  • Fourth Amendment prohibiting excessive and unreasonable force as well as the denial of necessary medical care when the need for treatment was known.

State and local municipality claims are made for assault and battery, substandard training, and inadequate policies.  Many state allegations are similar to the federal violations.

To successfully prove a police misconduct civil lawsuit, the victim or victim’s family must establish that the force used exceeded the level necessary for the purpose it was used.  This can be established by the use of an expert witness, who is typically a former chief law enforcement officer.

Filing a Lawsuit After a Shooting

In Michigan, officers should only use their gun as a last resort. Unfortunately, many lawsuits filed throughout the state involve police shootings. Although police officers can face criminal penalties for misusing their gun and injuring or killing someone, they rarely do. However, shooting victims and their families have been successful in the past filing a civil lawsuit against officers for wrongful shootings.

Civil lawsuits rely on negligence, or recklessness. When a person is negligent, they do not take reasonable care to ensure others around them are safe. Therefore, when a police officer wrongfully shoots someone, they might be considered negligent. As a result, victims of these incidents can file a civil lawsuit against them.

When someone has died as a result of a police shooting, their family members can file a civil wrongful death lawsuit. However, these lawsuits are extremely complex. Anyone wishing to file one should speak to a Michigan police brutality lawyer for help.

How Much are Police Lawsuit Settlement Payouts?

Compensation in a police abuse lawsuit includes payment for the physical harm, psychological harm, and economic losses suffered by the victim and family.  Economic losses include medical expenses, lost income, and other financial losses resulting from the incident. There is generally no limit to the amount of a settlement and every case is different depending on the facts and injuries.

In cases involving wrongful death, a settlement can be sought for the victim’s pain and suffering from the time of the incident until death.  They also claim compensation for the loss of companionship suffered by the family members.

Contact a Michigan Police Brutality Attorney for Assistance

If you or someone you care about was the victim of police brutality or excessive force, contact our law firm today.  There are absolutely no legal fees unless you win a settlement and we pay all of the expenses in pursuing your lawsuit.  Our experienced attorneys will answer all of your questions and start our investigation of your case.

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