New York Civil Rights And Criminal Defense Lawyers

What to do if you witness police brutality

On Behalf of | Wednesday Feb 7, 2018 | Police Misconduct

It is an unfortunate reality that the police often get away with exercising excessive force without facing any punishments. In one recent development, for example, a police officer beat a man excessively outside of a bar even when the man was on the ground. The officer was recently acquitted of all charges.

You hope you will never become a victim of police brutality, but what happens when you witness it while walking down the street? Many people are unsure what course of action to take. They are also afraid of becoming embroiled in someone else’s legal battle. If you witness this misconduct, then there are a few steps you can take.


As a general rule, people have the right to record video in a public space. However, the courts are currently deciding how video from passersby should come into play during the legal battle. Typically, as long as you record from a distance without interfering with the police activity, the officers cannot tell you to stop recording.

Submit video to an attorney

Once you have the video, the question becomes what to do with it. You may not be able to provide it directly to the victim if the officers ended up arresting him or her. The best thing to do is to take the video to an attorney. You can submit the video anonymously if you do not wish to become involved any further. A lawyer will be able to use the footage to build a case and help the victim.

Be willing to testify

Even if you do not want to involve yourself further, your testimony could help tremendously with the eventual court case. An attorney may ask for your contact information to get in touch later if your testimony could be an asset. In the event you do not wish to speak in court, you may want to consider providing a signed witness statement.