Police officers have stressful and difficult jobs, but this does not excuse them from being held fully accountable for the harm they cause in the line of duty. Police misconduct can cause serious or even fatal injuries to victims while eroding public trust in law enforcement.
If you are a victim of police misconduct, it’s important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Your rights are protected under the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, but you need to act quickly to preserve valuable evidence and counter the sophisticated strategies law enforcement will use to deflect blame and avoid taking responsibility for the harm you have suffered.
Types of Police Misconduct
Police misconduct can include a number of different types of behavior. Some of the most common include:
- Verbal abuse. This includes threats of violence as well as inappropriate comments about race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
- Excessive use of force. Examples of excessive force might include inappropriate use of tasers, stun guns, pepper spray, or nightsticks.
- Wrongful shootings. A wrongful shooting is an extension of an excessive use of force complaint but is more likely to result in disabling or fatal injuries.
- False arrest. False arrest is often related to racial profiling but can have a wide range of other motives. Forced or coerced confessions can play a role as well.
- Illegal search and seizure. The search and seizure process is considered unreasonable if it is conducted without a valid search warrant despite not falling under an exception to the warrant requirement.
- Sexual abuse. While sexual abuse by police officers does affect both genders, women are particularly vulnerable to abuse in the form of unnecessary strip searches, groping, assault, coerced sexual encounters, or forcible rape.
- Jail neglect and abuse. When confinement is necessary, law enforcement officers have a legal obligation to provide appropriate food, water, and medical care while preventing injuries caused by other inmates.
Police Misconduct Can Have Lifelong Effects
Victims of police misconduct often find their lives turned upside down. They may suffer broken bones, internal bleeding, nerve damage, or organ damage. Traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury are also common and can result in lifelong disability.
Mental health effects can be significant as well. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, anxiety, and depression can make it difficult to complete daily activities and enjoy meaningful relationships with loved ones.
When police misconduct results in fatal injuries, loved ones are often unable to privately grieve the loss. They may have to deal with intense media scrutiny and law enforcement officers intending to deflect blame by publishing information about their family member’s past criminal record, substance abuse, or mental health struggles. Financial concerns associated with final medical care, funeral costs, and the loss of the deceased person’s income only serve to add to their trauma.
Finding Evidence to Support Your Case
Police misconduct cases are notoriously difficult to prove. Attacking the character and credibility of the victim is commonplace, so it’s vital that you work with an experienced attorney to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. Types of evidence that might be helpful include:
- Dashcam or body cam footage
- Prison surveillance
- Testimony from witnesses who saw the abuse
- Past complaints of misconduct filed against an officer
- Medical records detailing the severity of your injuries
You can help build your case by documenting the incident as thoroughly as possible while it’s still fresh in your mind. Write down what happened in as much detail as you remember, take photos of your injuries along with any associated property damage, and save any torn or blood-stained clothing that can be used to support your case. Do not discuss the case with anyone other than your attorney, as statements made to friends or posted on social media can easily be misinterpreted.
Contact Our Police Misconduct Attorney in Anchorage, Alaska for Help With Your Case
The Law Office of Ben Crittenden is committed to protecting the legal rights of those who’ve been harmed by unethical law enforcement officers. If you’ve been a victim of police misconduct or have lost a loved one due to the illegal actions of law enforcement, our team will fight to protect your rights and hold the appropriate parties fully accountable for their actions. Call Ben today at 907-885-6032 or take a moment to fill out the online contact form to request a free consultation.