You may be one of the numerous Florida residents who agree that law enforcement officers have a tough job. They put their lives on the line every day for people they don't know. However, they may also experience extreme stress due to the demands of the job, which could result in going well beyond what many would consider reasonable when dealing with the public and potential criminals.
The use of excessive force by police officers isn't new. However, technological advancements, such as cell phones and camcorders, mean that officers who get out of control could end up on YouTube or the local news. Whether the footage comes from a witness, the victim, or even a dashboard camera or body camera, it's good news for you if you suffered injuries due to police brutality.
The reaction of law enforcement agencies
In the past, allegations of police brutality required a lengthy investigation that often resulted in an officer or officers being cleared unless the evidence was overwhelming. This was often due to a belief that police officers were above reproach while a criminal wasn't trustworthy. Fortunately, the digital age now makes those stereotypical responses almost impossible.
When allegations of police brutality or excessive force arise, police departments can no longer attempt to sweep them under the rug. For example, the Chicago Police Department received widespread criticism for holding onto footage from a dashboard camera regarding a shooting in 2014. The footage showed a suspect with a knife running away from a police officer who shot him 16 times. The video evidence led to the officer involved facing charges of first-degree murder, along with 16 other charges.
In an incident in Georgia, officers claimed that a suspect in a traffic stop resisted arrest. Video of the incident indicated that the events didn't occur as the officers claimed. A similar event took place in California with a jaywalker accosted by a police officer.
You have rights
If any of this sounds familiar to you, it may be because you suffered harm at the hands of an overzealous police officer who used excessive force against you. You need to know that the law protects you from this kind of behavior by law enforcement, including jail or prison guards. Just because you face criminal charges doesn't mean that an officer of the law can violate your civil rights.
You don't have to simply accept what happened to you. Obtaining any possible video footage of the incident will more than likely take priority since most departments equip their patrol cars and their officers with cameras. It may be in your best interest to contact an attorney who can explain your legal rights and options and advocate for you with the department and in court.