While it is true that law enforcement officers have significant latitude to discharge their duties, they sometimes overstep their authority.
Victims of potential law enforcement misconduct may rely on Section 1983, a statute that addresses the protection of their civil rights under the Constitution.
About Section 1983
The history of Section 1983 begins in the 19th century. Originally, the statute was part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which sought to eliminate oppressive conduct by the Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante groups. It is now included within Title 42 of the United States Code. In essence, it is unlawful under Section 1983 for any person acting through the authority of state law to take away the constitutional rights of another. Using this statute, the claims most often brought against law enforcement officers are excessive force, malicious prosecution and false arrest.
The civil rights claim
Anyone wishing to initiate a police misconduct claim must produce evidence that the actions of the officer went beyond reasonable bounds, resulted in injury or damages and infringed upon the constitutional rights of the victim. Evidence must accompany the claim, such as photographs of damage or injuries, statements from police and witnesses, records concerning the incident and any other pertinent documentation.
The protection of rights
Bringing this kind of claim is not a simple matter since police officers have extensive powers. However, Section 1983 ensures that the victim cannot be deprived of his or her rights in a lawsuit involving the possible misconduct of a law enforcement officer.