Police brutality is a sadly common phenomenon whenever people come into contact with the police. Some law enforcement officers are willing to engage in blatant acts of violence, or other illegal or unconstitutional acts, in order to secure arrests or punish those they think deserve it. Unfortunately, even innocent witnesses and bystanders are not necessarily protected against the consequences of their misconduct. Here are five types of police brutality you may encounter when you come into contact with law enforcement:
- Use of excessive force
- Although not necessarily the most common form of police brutality, excessive force is one of the most blatant ways the police abuse their authority. Broadly speaking, “excessive force” refers to any situation where a police officer uses force disproportionate to what is necessary in a given situation. This may include things like: using chokeholds, beating people who are already restrained, using tasers against people who are not engaged in violence, or using firearms against people who pose no threat to themselves or others.
- Wrongful search or seizure
- Another common way that police abuse their authority is by engaging in unlawful searches or seizures of people’s property. A shocking number of police officers do not know, or do not care, about the boundaries of their authority under the Fourth Amendment, and will search or seize any person’s property that they feel like. This is considered police brutality because it often results in an unnecessary and illegal violation of a person’s privacy, and may also result in otherwise avoidable harm to a person’s property or person.
- False arrest
- Law enforcement will also sometimes engage in a false arrest, bringing someone in for a crime they did not commit, or even for an act that is not actually a crime. This form of police brutality is sometimes used against protestors, or against people who witness other acts of police misconduct, as a form of intimidation. This can not only subject someone to a false prosecution for crimes they did not commit, but also become a problem that can result in serious harm to a person’s career and social life.
- Failure to provide food, water, or other essentials
- When you are in police custody, they have a legal responsibility to provide food and water, as well as medicine and other essential items. However, some police will deny people these essentials as a means of coercion, promising to give food or water in exchange for a confession. A variation on this type of police brutality involves denying someone access to a bathroom, using the need to use the restroom as a form of pressure to force a suspect into compliance.
- Racial discrimination
- Finally, there is the issue of racial discrimination, where police will treat a suspect from a marginalized racial group with unnecessary hostility. This can take many forms, including subjecting people to questioning or abuse without justification, or using excessive force against someone who posed no threat. When people face racial discrimination from law enforcement or any other type of police brutality, they should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to explore their legal options.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.