Police Excessive Force Lawsuits
What Is “Excessive Force” by Police?
There is no concrete definition of “excessive force” since
each case is different. Indeed, “excessive” has different
meanings in different jurisdictions. The level of force appropriate for
a given situation is essentially a judgment call made by individual officers
who are often in the “heat of the chase” when they are making
these decisions. In most cases, officers are expected to use the minimum
amount of force required to achieve a safe and effective outcome, but
this doesn’t always happen.
Like police brutality, excessive force can refer to a wide range of situations.
You will need to speak with an attorney to understand your legal options
Examples of excessive force by police may include:
- Repeatedly using physical force, such as punching or kicking a suspect
while he or she is subdued or in custody, and not resisting
- Shooting an unarmed suspect or using a weapon against someone who did not
pose a danger to the officer
- Using or threatening to use force as an intimidation tactic on suspects
- Using a choke hold to make an arrest
By law, police should only use the amount of force needed to conduct an
arrest – no more. Police have the authority to use force where necessary
in order to diffuse a situation and keep themselves and other people safe.
However, there are times when police officers overstep their bounds and
use more force than is warranted to subdue a suspect or handle a prisoner.
When this happens, it is referred to as “excessive force”
or “police brutality” and he/she not only risks hurting the
victim, but can lead to a violation of his/her civil rights.
Your Rights & the “Use of Force Continuum”
Most agencies have guidelines for use of force. According to the National
Institute of Justice (NIJ), a common use of force continuum is:
- Officer Presence
- Non-Physical Force (Verbal)
- Empty-Hand force
- Less-Lethal Methods
- Lethal Force
According to the NIJ, the presence of a law enforcement officer is the
best way to resolve a situation. At this point, the officer should not
appear threatening but should be professional. In many cases, the presence
of a police officer is enough to deter crime. The next best option is
non-physical force or verbal force. Verbalization should be non-threatening
If verbalization is not enough, officers may implement empty-hand control
or less-lethal methods to obtain control of an incident. Empty-hand control
refers to joint locks, holds, and grabs; less-lethal methods involve the
use of a weapon, such as a baton or chemical spray. Law enforcement is
only allowed to implement lethal force if the suspect poses a lethal threat
to officers or another person.
Bringing an Excessive Force Case to Court
In order to bring a successful case against a police officer, you must
overcome “qualified immunity.” This is the most common defense
against police excessive force or police brutality. With this defense,
law enforcement claims immunity from such lawsuit. This means you must
be able to show that the actions of the police officer exceeded the bounds
Call Us Today to Learn Your Options
The Russell Friedman Law Group, LLP provides legal guidance and representation
for victims of
police brutality in New York and New Jersey. Our
civil rights lawyers are committed to helping people like you not only stand up for their rights
but get the justice they deserve after being unjustly treated by law enforcement
Let's discuss your treatment by police officers.
Contact the Russell Friedman Law Group, LLP.
Have you been affected by police misconduct such as excessive force?
Contact a New York excessive force attorney at The Russell Friedman Law Group, LLP today.