While police officers are here to protect and serve the public, they are also required to uphold the Constitution. Although many officers meet and exceed the high standards of their jobs, some mistakenly believe they can use their badge to stop or arrest anyone of their choosing. In fact, New York City has paid over $384 million settling claims arising from police officers’ abuses of power.
Interactions with police may result in violations of the Constitution, chiefly, the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. These violations may give rise to claims of excessive force, false arrest/imprisonment, illegal search/unlawful seizure, malicious prosecution, and unlawful convictions. Claims brought under the Constitution are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the officers and, sometimes, the municipality for deprivations of an individual’s federal rights. For example, many false arrests occur in conjunction with “stop and frisk” or traffic stops. A police officer cannot just stop or pull over drivers without a reasonable belief that they have done something illegal. There are also state law claims—such as assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, defamation, trespassing, and intentional infliction of emotional distress—which a victim of police misconduct can bring in conjunction with federal claims.
If you are stopped without reasonable cause, arrested or prosecuted without probable cause, or if an officer’s actions toward you were objectively unreasonable (like if an officer beat you up after you were already in handcuffs), you may have claims against the officers and municipality.
If your rights were violated by a police officer, contact the attorneys at The Harman Firm, LLP to speak with our civil rights attorneys today.