By law, police officers are allowed to use force to physically detain and restrain suspects, using the level of force necessary to protect themselves and others. They must use reasonable force in these situations. Situations in which excessive force might be considered necessary include the need to diffuse a dangerous situation or protect themselves or others from harm. But when police officers use excessive force when a more reasonable approach would have been sufficient, this might be considered police brutality.
Continuum of Force and Excessive Force
Police officers should follow continuum-of-force guidelines as to how much force should be used in any given situation. The different levels include using basic verbal commands and physical restraint, less-than-lethal force, and lethal force in the most dangerous of situations. The following is a use-of-force continuum:
- Officer presence—no force needed
- Verbalization—no physical force
- Empty-hand control—bodily force
- Less-lethal methods—chemical sprays, batons, or tasers used
- Lethal force—deadly weapons used
Excessive force by a cop is any force used that exceeds what is necessary to control a suspect. Excessive force is considered a type of police brutality, although the terms are often used interchangeably.
What to Do After a Police Brutality Injury
If you have been injured as a result of police brutality, you should take the following steps:
- Ask for medical treatment. If the arresting officers do not get medical assistance for you, ask every officer with whom you come into contact until you get treatment. As part of your case, you will need a doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries. This medical record will likely become an important factor if you end up taking legal action against the officer who caused your injury.
- Call an attorney. An experienced police misconduct attorney can gather and preserve any evidence that is relevant to your case. Police officers who use excessive force should be held accountable for their actions.
Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden
Both police brutality and police misconduct are against the law, but if you experience either, you can expect the police department to fight your claim. You need an experienced police misconduct attorney to launch a full investigation to support your claim. Call attorney Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.