Most police officers are great public servants who do their jobs with courage and conviction. However, some officers abuse their authority and the trust we place in them by unnecessarily beating someone, macing them, tasing them, shooting them, or even killing them. That's not right—and it's illegal. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits officers from using excessive force.
Minnesota Police Excessive Force Attorney
As a civil rights lawyer, I work in Minnesota and beyond to prosecute excessive force claims against law enforcement officers. While these cases can be difficult, I have successfully represented victims of police brutality and excessive force in places such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Nevada. I commit for the long haul and have what it takes to fight for justice in these and other cases involving police misconduct.
What is excessive force by police?
Excessive force refers to situations where government officials, such as police officers, legally entitled to use force exceed the minimum amount necessary to diffuse an incident or to protect themselves or others from harm. It's not limited to physical violence, but can also include the use of firearms or other weapons, the use of a vehicle to chase a suspect, or other actions that result in physical harm or death.
Here are some key elements that constitute excessive force:
1. Reasonableness: The standard used to evaluate whether a police officer used excessive force is one of "reasonableness." This is a subjective standard that considers what a reasonable officer would have done under the same circumstances. It takes into account factors such as the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether the suspect was actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.
2. Use of Force Continuum: Most law enforcement agencies have a use of force continuum, or scale, that outlines the level of force considered appropriate in direct response to a subject's behavior. This continuum generally has many levels, and officers are instructed to respond with a level of force appropriate to the situation at hand, acknowledging that the officer may move from one part of the continuum to another in a matter of seconds. An officer who uses a level of force inconsistent with the subject's behavior may be found to have used excessive force.
3. Seriousness of Injury: While the presence of an injury can support a claim of excessive force, it is not required. The focus is on whether the officer's use of force was reasonable in light of the circumstances, not on the injury that resulted.
4. Compliance: A key consideration is whether the individual was compliant or non-compliant with the officer's instructions. While some degree of force may be necessary to control a non-compliant individual, such force must be proportionate to the threat posed.
The consequences for officers found to have used excessive force can be severe. They can include job loss, criminal charges, and civil liability in the form of damages awarded to the victim.
It's important to note that an excessive force claim requires a thorough investigation and often hinges on the specific facts of the case. Because of the high stakes for all parties involved, these claims are often highly contested and require legal expertise to navigate.