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Many law enforcement officers do their job ethically and responsibly. They place their lives on the line to maintain law and order, to improve the quality of life for all citizens, and to protect the lives of you and your loved ones. It is a stressful and dangerous job, and police officers are entitled to use reasonable force when necessary to protect themselves and bystanders.
The Illinois Criminal Code addresses when a police officer may justifiably use reasonable force. Under 720 ILCS 5/7-5, a law enforcement office may use force in making an arrest when:
- Force is necessary because the suspect is resisting or trying to escape.
- The suspect committed or attempted to commit a felony crime involving the infliction of serious bodily harm or threat of serious bodily harm.
- The suspect attempted to escape by use of a deadly weapon; or is otherwise threatening to put other people in danger of being seriously injured or killed.
As we see in so many recent news stories, the use of force often isn’t clear cut, and the use of force may be shrouded in questions about whether the person who was the subject of police force actually did anything to merit the use of force, or whether a police officer’s beliefs about the danger to himself or others in the situation were reasonable.
We rely on police to protect us and our communities, and when police use force in situations where they shouldn’t, it can create a breach of trust between law enforcement and the people who police are sworn to serve and protect. What can you do when an officer’s actions to subdue a suspect become illegal?
There are a number of Chicago police brutality cases in which officers abuse their power by using “excessive force” — in other words, any force that exceeds the necessary means to subdue a suspect and keep police and others in the immediate vicinity safe. The moment a suspect is no longer resistant, further action taken against that suspect is considered excessive and violates an individual’s constitutional rights.
It is tragic if you have suffered damages or a serious loss due to police brutality. Though these incidents are rare, these case do sometimes happen, and it can be overwhelming and intensely emotional when it happens to you or to a loved one. You may be afraid to step forward and enforce your rights, but it is important that you make it known when you, a friend or family member have been abused by a police officer. It is your constitutional right to hold the police officer accountable by taking action — and that action may take the form of pursuing compensation for the injuries or damages that you suffered at the hands of law enforcement.
If you have reason to believe that you have been a victim of police brutality or have suffered personal injury or the wrongful death of a loved one due to the excessive use of force by law enforcement, our personal injury lawyers at Staver Law Group will listen to your story and advise you on how to best proceed.
In Cases of Physical Injury and Wrongful Death
If you feel that you have been a victim of police brutality, particularly if you have suffered serious physical injury or a loved one was killed because of actions by police, your situation should be handled seriously and professionally. Police brutality is a serious and unfortunate case of police misconduct. When a police officer goes beyond what should be required to control a given situation, or exercises unnecessary force, their actions can lead to devastating consequences.
In Chicago, you may have a claim for compensation when you have been injured or you suffered the wrongful death of a family member because of police brutality cases. Unfortunately many cases of improper conduct are never investigated or properly handled by a skilled attorney. Though dealing with a police brutality incident can be physically and emotionally draining, pursuing a claim for compensation may be the best way to ensure that your medical expenses are paid, any lost wages are recovered, and your family’s financial future is secured following your traumatic encounter with law enforcement.
Incidences of police brutality may include but are not limited to the following occurrences:
- Civil Rights Violations — If a law enforcement officer deprives you of your rights or civil liberties under the U.S. or Illinois Constitutions, or federal or state law, you may have a claim. The most common claims brought against police officers are false arrests and unwarranted or excessive force.
- Coercion or Blackmail — Coercing an admission or confession from an innocent person is an obstruction of justice and a violation of that victim’s constitutional rights.
- Excessive Force — Forceful law enforcement tactics do not always amount to police misconduct but when police actions comprise of excessive use of force, legitimate action should be taken.
- Excessive Use of Pepper Spray or Tear Gas — Whether the use of pepper spray or tear gas was reasonable depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation. If the officer used unreasonable force despite having good intentions, the excessive force claim will not be ignored.
- False Arrest — Police do not have unlimited authority to arrest or detain people. A police officer must have probable cause to believe the individual has committed a crime.
- Falsified Evidence — Planting evidence, coercing a false accusation from a witness, lying or giving a false testimony at trial, or making false or misleading statements in a police report are all examples of falsifying evidence.
- Illegal Searches — A person has the right to be free from unreasonable searches. Illegal searches are a violation of your constitutional rights.
- Police Harassment — This is an abuse of law enforcements’ authority by repeatedly stopping someone without probable cause and aggressively questioning that person, often in attempt to coerce someone into admitting a crime. Harassment also may involve threatening or intimidating a person to obtain information.
- Police Battery — Law enforcement officers should only use the necessary force needed to subdue a suspect or protect the lives of officers or bystanders. If excessive force is used that breaches the civil rights of the victim involved, compensation may be available.
- Sexual Abuse — Sexual assault may happen overtly through physical aggression, or through more subtle and coercive manners. When officers use their authority to take advantage of the people they are supposed to protect, the consequences can be severe.
- Surveillance Abuse – Individuals subjected to unlawful surveillance undergo an invasion of privacy. Action can and should be taken to stop unlawful surveillance.
- Unwarranted Use of a Taser — Though Tasers are commonly believed to be a non-lethal weapon that can be used against unarmed victims, that is not always true. According to recent publication from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), there are cases when unarmed citizens do not present a serious threat in some Taser-related deaths.
- Wrongful Death — When an officer injures or kills someone in a negligent or intentional police shooting, or uses excessive force that results in the victim’s death, his or her family has every right to bring a claim for compensation for the death caused by such a severe, unjust act.
If you are suffering severe, permanent injuries from police misconduct, you have important legal rights, and if this use of excessive or inappropriate force results in deadly injuries of a loved one, you have a right to compensation of your damages.
As a victim of police brutality, standing up for yourself and taking action can not only obtain compensation for you or your family, it can also help to prevent further harm by ensuring that police officers stay within the bounds of the law.
Police Brutality Lawsuits in Chicago
The personal injury lawyers at Staver Law Group will advocate on behalf of all police brutality victims. If you or your loved one has suffered serious physical injuries from an improper arrest or unwarranted abuse from law enforcement, our attorneys will work to ensure that you receive the best representation. If you, your friends or your loved ones have been the victim of police brutality, contact Staver Law Group today at to receive a free consultation.
We will evaluate your potential case and help guide you through every step of the legal process.