It is very common in interactions between law enforcement and individuals for law enforcement officers to use some measure of force to gain control of a situation. This may be something as simple as raising their voice or as serious as drawing their firearm. What measure of force an officer is entitled to use is governed by the circumstances facing the officer and the reasonableness standard of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures includes the right to be free from the use of excessive force in the course of an arrest. In order to determine whether the amount of force used was proper, a court must ask whether the officers’ conduct was objectively reasonable in light of the facts confronting the officer.
Even if you cannot establish a claim for the violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, you may be able to bring a claim for injuries suffered as the result of the negligence of the officer.
What if I did not suffer any significant injury?
In Wilkins v. Gaddy, the United States Supreme Court recognized that a Plaintiff does not lose his ability to pursue an excessive force claim merely because he has the good fortune to escape without serious injury.
What if the police report states that I was resisting arrest?
That may not have any impact on your ability to assert a claim for excessive force. It is not uncommon for law enforcement to exaggerate the actions of arrestees in order to justify the use of force. In cases where a Plaintiff is challenging the accuracy of a police report, the Court may not accept the content of the police report as true.
How long do I have to bring a claim?
In Florida, you have four (4) years from the date of the incident to assert a claim for excessive force.
If you believe you have been the victim of excessive force, then it is important to consult with a civil rights attorney regarding your rights. The law surrounding excessive force is complex and ever changing. In order to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected, I recommend consulting with an attorney familiar with these types of claims as soon as possible. Do not be concerned about the cost of a civil rights attorney. Under Federal law, in the event you are successful, you are entitled to recover your reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred pursuing your rights. It is common for attorneys to handle civil rights claims on a contingency fee basis at no cost to you.
If you would like a free consultation, then please contact my office at (954)509-3826 or fill out the consultation form and my office will contact you.