Police officers are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the public from violence. Law enforcement is allowed to use physical, sometimes fatal, force to carry out their duties. However, as agents of the government, police officers are subject to constitutional restraints. There are circumstances in which the use of force is not warranted, such as when an officer uses more force than necessary to apprehend an individual or when a person is denied due process.
A recent dashcam video has surfaced that shows a New Jersey man being kicked by a police officer. The man was arrested when a homeowner reported that he was trying to break into her home. Police handcuffed the man and had him sit on the ground outside the house. The video shows a Penns Grove Police Department officer kicking the man in the head as he tried to stand up, knocking him down.
The man claims that he was traveling home from North Carolina for Thanksgiving and had been walking through fields trying to find his dogs. He stated that he was attempting to break into the house for warmth, a claim that is supported by hospital officials who report that the man was suffering from hypothermia.
The Penns Grove Police Department chief stated that the officer’s behavior is unacceptable and non-compliant with department policy. The police officer has been charged with aggravated assault despite filing a use of force report claiming that the suspect was under the influence and resisting police officer control.
The most common types of claims brought against police officers are false arrest, malicious prosecution, and excessive use of force. Those asserting a false arrest claim must be able to show that the police officer arrested them without having probable cause to believe that they committed a crime, thus violating their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure.
Malicious prosecution claims must be supported by showing that the victim was deprived of their Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty. This can be established by showing that a criminal proceeding, for which there was no probable cause and was brought with malice toward the victim, was initiated against the victim and ended in the victim’s favor.
Victims of police misconduct and brutality may argue that their civil rights were violated under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which allows victims to bring private civil actions for being denied civil rights by anyone acting in an official government capacity. To prove an excessive use of force claim, the victim must show that the officer’s use of force was unreasonable given the circumstances of the case.
If you believe you are the victim of police misconduct or brutality, contact a Philadelphia police brutality lawyer at Williams Cedar. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages for pain and suffering. Our skilled and experienced legal team is dedicated to defending the rights of those victimized by officers of the law. From our offices in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide. To discuss your case, contact us online or call us at 856-874-7500 or 215-557-0099.