There has been significant media coverage over the past few years regarding over-aggressive police officers who practically do as they wish when attempting to apprehend suspects who they want to charge with a criminal act. The most serious of these instances are often described as police brutality. The truth is that most cases of over-reaction from police officers are actually much more subtle, and often they actually will also involve issues such as violating a suspect’s civil rights or personal freedom when they have not committed a crime. New York state has been a focal point for many of these complaints, and they can come from a wide variety of scenarios.
Filing the complaint
Filing a complaint against a police officer can be frustrating for a variety of reasons. Law enforcement agencies tend to be protective of the rank and file, and reports of police misconduct are not often well-received. However, some officers do tend to skirt the rules in their zeal to make arrests, which can lead to valid claims and ensuing civil suits following the complaint.
Suing the police
The ultimate step in pursuing damages after a misconduct complaint is filing a legal action against the officer and their employing law enforcement agency. The agency is ultimately liable in most situations as well as the officer. Criminal charges could actually be filed against the officer as well when sufficient evidence supports indictment. But just as in any other civil case, it is the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove the injury or civil rights violation occurred and that the respondent was negligent in their actions during the arrest procedure.
Those filing complaints against the police should understand that this is a very serious matter, and it is by no means an easy process. Any decision to file a complaint should be weighed carefully before making the complaint official.