NYC Police Excessive Force Lawyers
Santana Law Firm is an award-winning New York City law firm that represents victims of police brutality and excessive force. Based in Manhattan and the Bronx, our skilled civil rights attorneys help victims and their families pursue lawsuits against the NYPD and other bad actors in law enforcement to recover the compensation they deserve.
Although law enforcement officers are allowed to use a wide variety of tactics to maintain law and order, they do not have a blank check to use violence. Numerous Supreme Court decisions, NYS laws, and, most significantly, Constitutional amendments put limits on the amount of force police officers can use. Unnecessary police shootings, beatings, and other forms of force are a clear violation of the Constitution and your civil rights.
Officers are trained to use the least lethal de-escalation tactics first. Yet, with cases of police brutality making headlines regularly, we know that some cops aren’t following the rules. When corrupt cops are allowed to continue patrolling with impunity, they and their police departments must be held responsible.
The attorneys at Santana Law Firm believe that every victim of excessive force deserves justice, compassion, and compensation. Founder Jaime Santana, a former Brooklyn prosecutor turned civil rights attorney, has helped hundreds of people seek accountability from the NYPD. We may be able to help you do the same.
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What Is Excessive Force?
“Excessive force” refers to situations where police, corrections officers, or other law enforcement officers use more force than necessary against another person. Untrained, biased, or otherwise bad cops may use excessive force when trying to diffuse a situation or when they feel they are in danger. Often known as police brutality, excessive force often happens during arrests, but it can also happen while officers are handling prisoners who have been convicted or are awaiting trial.
Excessive force often looks like:
- Handcuffing more tightly or violently than necessary
- Using force against someone who is unarmed or cooperative
- Using force even after someone has been restrained
- Using force when no crime has been committed
- Failing to give a verbal warning before using deadly force
- Using deadly force when a less-lethal alternative would have been effective
- Using chokeholds or other methods that restrict breathing
- Using firearms, tasers, and batons unnecessarily
Police have broad power to carry out their duties, but it is a constitutional violation when an officer beats, harms, or uses deadly force against someone without cause. Every person in the United States, including people who are incarcerated or under arrest, has a right not to be subjected to police brutality. If you believe an officer has used excessive force against you or a loved one, you may be able to pursue a civil rights case against them.
When Can an Officer Use Force?
Just because an officer made an arrest, restrained someone, or used their gun, taser, or baton, that doesn’t automatically make it excessive force. Law enforcement officers are allowed to use these methods when they become necessary to prevent harm. However, the degree of force must always be proportional to the threat at hand.
In an ideal world, police officers would always follow these steps when trying to diffuse a situation:
- Physical Presence: Simply being present
- Verbalization: Issuing verbal warnings and orders
- Empty-Hand Control: Using physical force such as grabs, punches, and restraint
- Less Lethal Methods: Using weapons such as pepper spray, police dogs, batons, and tasers
- Lethal Force: Using a firearm or another deadly weapon
Unfortunately, police officers sometimes escalate their level of force before the situation calls for it, or they may continue to use force even after the threat has been eliminated. In order to be considered reasonable under the law, force must match the level of danger and end when the danger has been contained through arrest, restraint, or another de-escalation tactic. When police officers fail to meet this standard, they are in violation of the Constitution.
Police Brutality Can Result in Serious Harm
Excessive force frequently results in physical and emotional injuries that may last for years. In the most tragic cases, excessive force results in senseless death.
Common police brutality injuries include:
- Blindness and eye injuries
- Broken bones
- Bullet wounds
- Chemical burns
- Cuts and bruises
- Disability and disfigurement
- Head injuries and concussions
- Nerve damage
- Wrongful death
According to its Annual Use of Force Report, the NYPD admits that officers use excessive force approximately 40 times a year. The real number could be much higher, as nearly 98,000 people have filed complaints related to excessive force to the NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board since the 1980s. If you or a loved one are one of these victims, you may be entitled to damages to help you cover your medical costs and pain and suffering.
Remedies Are Available for Victims of NYPD Excessive Force
If you or a loved one has been a victim of excessive force, you have the right to file a federal civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice and/or under 42 USC Section 1983 of the United States Code. New York State has also recently passed several reforms that have made it easier to pursue legal action against police officers.
You may be entitled to compensation to cover costs associated with:
Pursuing an excessive force case is complicated, and there are numerous deadlines and requirements you must meet in order to preserve your right to file a claim. The best way to ensure a successful outcome and the maximum compensation is to contact an experienced NYC police brutality lawyer as soon as possible.
Santana Law Firm
helps victims of police violence and their loved ones seek accountability for corrupt cops and pursue the maximum damages possible.
How to Prove your Excessive Force Claim
As the plaintiff in a civil rights case, the burden falls on you to prove that the law enforcement officer used excessive force. Police departments will do everything they can to avoid being held liable and ordered to pay damages. They may falsely claim that you presented more of a threat than you actually did in an attempt to justify the use of excessive force. To combat this, it is crucial that you preserve any and all evidence that could be presented in court to support your side of the story.
It is important to find and save:
Cell phone videos and photos
Dashboard and security camera footage
Pictures of injuries
Records of the officer’s past misconduct
Any other evidence that supports your case
When dealing with the NYPD, it is essential that you work with a lawyer who is highly skilled at proving police brutality claims.
Experienced NYC Police Brutality Lawyers
Being harmed by police is a devastating experience that turns your world upside down in a split second. Police brutality can lead to lifelong consequences that affect entire families and communities.
Whether you were injured while being arrested; you suffered violence at the hands of officers while incarcerated; or your loved one was killed because of deadly force, our lawyers are ready to help you. Having your Constitutional rights violated is a serious matter that should not go unaccounted for. We believe corrupt and violent police officers must be held accountable for the harm they cause.
If you or a loved one is a victim of police excessive force in NYC, contact our office today for a free, confidential consultation. Our lawyers will begin working immediately for you.