If you have been injured by the police or a private security firm through the use of excessive force, you may have been told that you are unable to sue for compensation because of governmental immunity. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
If the police or a security officer has crossed the line that lies between what is reasonable and what is excessive, they can be sued. Here is some additional information you may want to know.
What Is Excessive Force?
Police and private security alike are charged with protecting and serving during some of the most difficult times. Many times when they are called, adrenaline is already flowing in them and in the people they are responding to.
Once the police arrive on the scene of the call, their jobs require them to make judgement calls that could easily injure or cost someone their life. While the Supreme Court recognized in Graham v. Connor in 1989, that the police have the right to use some degree of threat or physical coercion, it must be proportional to the threat involved.
If the threat escalates, and those involved have failed to respond to lesser measures of force, the use of force can increase.
Once the threat ceases to exist or is secured, the use of any type of force should cease. The police are prohibited by law from exceeding this proportional amount of force to protect themselves or others, and must use lesser means when it is at all possible.
For example, police officers should not kick, strike, or beat someone who is already securely handcuffed. The police should not use a weapon against unarmed suspects or use tasers, pepper spray, or other weapons against people when it is not necessary.
Police officers should take into consideration:
The alleged crime
The threat level of the alleged suspect
The cooperation of the alleged suspect
Most departments require officers to use the least amount of force necessary to perform the task they are assigned. However, the officers are often allowed to use whatever necessary force they feel they need to get the job done.
Are the Rules the Same for Private Security Guards?
The rules regarding excessive force are not the same for private security guards. Even if the guards are fully licensed and fully equipped with handguns, tasers, pepper spray, and handcuffs, they do not have the same rights as the police.
Private security officers are not required by law to apprehend a person or make an arrest. They always have the option of calling the police for assistance.
If the officers choose to take someone into custody for a crime or remove them from the property they are hired to protect, they must use common sense and reasonable force to do so. In California, reasonable force is defined as what force a typical, reasonable person would apply, or believe necessary, in the same situation.
How Do You Bring An Excessive Force Claim Against An Officer?
The fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you from excessive force during an arrest. If you feel your rights have been violated, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the officer who used the force, and you may even be able to file a suit against the municipality they are employed by.
Unfortunately, these cases can be extremely difficult as it’s usually your word against the word of the officer. Even when you have the crime on video, you will still usually have the burden of proof. This is why you should have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
Here at Hernandez Law Offices , we will be glad to meet with you, review your case, and assist you in securing the compensation you deserve. Give us a call today so we can begin working for you.