Encounters with law enforcement officials can be intimidating, no matter the circumstances. When New Yorkers are faced with explaining themselves to badged and often armed officers, they may feel threatened or even scared of what may happen if the officers’ suspicions are raised. When police encounters turn aggressive, individuals’ civil rights may be threatened.
That is because in New York and states throughout the nation police brutality and misconduct can run unchecked by local and state governments. The bad actions of some law enforcement officials can jeopardize freedoms and even the lives of those that they are bound to protect. Police misconduct is not a single action, but rather a classification of behaviors that endanger personal rights.
Examples of police misconduct include but are not limited to:
- Excessive force during suspect pursuits and arrests;
- Witness tampering to conceal evidence from being made known; and
- Unjust or false imprisonment to limit the movement of individuals without cause.
The Bill of Rights provides the foundations for the civil liberties that individuals may lose when police misconduct occurs. In particular, the Fourth Amendment establishes limits on law enforcement action and prevents the unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals. When law enforcement officers take action against individuals without warrants or cause, they violate the protections that men and women are entitled to under the law.
Additionally, the Eighth Amendment protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of law enforcement officials. It is important to remember that victims of Eighth Amendment violations may suffer economic or physical harm, either through violence or excessive bail, fines, or periods of incarceration.
Victims of police misconduct and brutality should be aware that they have rights and legal options for addressing the suffering that they have been subjected to by law enforcement officials. In New York, it may be possible for victims to seek the recovery of their losses not only from the officers who caused their suffering but also from the local governments that employed the offending officers.
Legal help may be necessary for victims of police misconduct who are unsure of how to protect themselves and their rights to the recovery of their losses. As such, readers are encouraged to seek their own counsel to address their own legal needs. This post does not offer any legal advice, and individuals contemplating legal action over violations of their civil rights can talk to their civil rights attorneys about the availability of damages for their pending claims.