Our law enforcement agencies are supposed to “protect and serve,” but all too often, they inflict harm on innocent people while trampling their civil rights. The line between proper and improper police misconduct is explicit and rigidly defined. Asserting your rights to not fall victim to improper conduct gives you options for recourse and sends strong signals of accountability. After all, in our culture, we consider our police force as heroes — they should act accordingly.
The Personal Injury Lawyers ™ are experienced in representing the rights of victims of police misconduct. That includes individuals hurt in dangerous pursuits via excessive use of force and who have been falsely prosecuted or imprisoned. Our sole goal is to hold law enforcement agencies accountable to state and federal laws, as well as their own internal policies, while doing everything we can to restore your situation as closely as possible to what it was before your civil rights were violated.
Handling these cases is never easy, but The Personal Injury Lawyers ™ are up to the task. We are available for free, no-obligation case reviews to discuss your legal rights and options for holding law enforcement personnel accountable for the harm they have inflicted. Call our offices today at (312) 999-9990 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.
How a Police Misconduct Attorney Can Help You Seek Justice
Improper police actions can disrupt lives, sometimes even ending them prematurely. 2022 broke records for use of lethal force by police, resulting in 1,201 deaths nationwide. The majority of these killings followed a response to a non-violent crime. Data from the University of Illinois Chicago shows that, in the state of Illinois alone, an average of 15 civilians are killed, and 800 people are injured by law enforcement annually.
Law enforcement has wide discretion to use force and the full extent of their resources, with many protections afforded to them from typical civil lawsuits involving personal injury or other measurable harm (incidents called “torts” in the legal profession). Because their job often involves appropriate use of force and permission to do things the typical public cannot, such as restraining and confining someone, there are many situations in which a law enforcement officer or agency employee would have immunity from many types of civil actions.
At The Personal Injury Lawyers ™, we leverage the full extent of police policy in addition to municipal, state, and federal law in order to expose misconduct and firmly establish when it goes into improper territory. When you choose to be represented by our firm, we set to work fast. Our primary goal is to investigate the incident in question and obtain all available evidence. We will also research all applicable policies and laws in order to seek to establish, through a preponderance of evidence, that what you suffered was unjust and led to measurable damages.
Working with our firm means you can obtain client-focused services and a concerted effort to maximize your case’s chances of a successful resolution. As part of your case’s process, we may engage in the following actions on your behalf.
- Rapid and intensive investigation into the circumstances of your incident and any critical surrounding factors
- Review of all relevant personnel files in order to determine if the officer or precinct that engaged in alleged misconduct has a pattern of violation of laws or policies
- Contact and interview all available witnesses, putting together the most comprehensive view possible of relevant case events
- Representation on your behalf in all interactions with law enforcement agencies, sparing you the anxiety and discomfort that can come with having to re-engage with the agency that caused you to suffer
- Consultations with internal affairs personnel and subject matter experts to determine the standards of conduct that applied to your situation and how they were violated
- Accurate valuation of all damages you have suffered, including those related to personal injury and damages involving loss of rights or reputation
- Preparation of your case for a possible jury trial
Common Types of Police Misconduct
The term “misconduct” can apply to any situation where a law enforcement officer deviated from the expected standards of action and behavior. It may include direct, physical interactions, such as an inappropriate use of a headlock or other unapproved restraint methods. It may also involve verbal abuse, including inappropriate, sexually charged statements or threats to remove your rights without due process. Many such cases also involve a violation of due process or proper procedure, including cases of false imprisonment, false arrest, or wrongful conviction.
Below are some of the police misconduct cases we see most often as civil rights attorneys.
Excessive Use of Force
Cases of police brutality and excessive use of force fuel attention-grabbing headlines in our modern age. After centuries of being able to operate essentially under the radar, police are now subject to an unprecedented level of scrutiny because of the advancement of communication technologies.
The use of excessive force often relates to violence and injury. Police policies forbid unnecessary use of physical strikes, tasers, batons, or firearms when other, less harmful methods of restraining or subduing a suspect are available. This limitation on the use of force is especially pertinent when the officer who used deadly or harmful force did not have a “credible fear” because of a suspected deadly weapon.
Since the settlement of the world-famous Rodney King police assault case in 1994 for $3.8 million (nearly $8 million in 2023 dollars), law enforcement agencies have received concerted pushback for horrific acts of unnecessary — sometimes even indulgent — violence.
A “police chase” often seems thrilling when showcased on evening news clips or in works of crime fiction. The reality is that many cases are unneeded, and they are discouraged because of their high capacity for causing harm to suspects and the general public. The Personal Injury Lawyers ™ has represented cases that involved fatal accidents triggered by police chases, including one where the officers in pursuit were repeatedly commanded to stand down by dispatchers. Our goal is to hold law enforcement agents accountable for damages while encouraging closer adherence to policies that discourage chases that needlessly put the public and suspects at risk.
A “false arrest” can include any situation where a person is arrested and sent to jail for holding without proper evidence or use of procedure. These situations can include scenarios of mistaken identity, specious reasoning to identify a supposed perpetrator, or arrest without a warrant or full execution of due process.
Many false arrest scenarios can involve falsified or “planted” evidence, enabled because officers are often the sole determinants of who should be placed under arrest and what evidence constitutes reasonable grounds for arrest. The Personal Injury Lawyers ™ will seek all available body-cam footage, witness footage, witness accounts, and other evidence to cast doubt on the origin of supposed “damning evidence” in order to seek cancellation of charges and full restitution of applicable damages.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Individuals have rights under the U.S. Constitution to not be subjected to search without a warrant, and even then, only on the basis of a “reasonable suspicion” stemming from clear and demonstrable evidence. Instead, many individuals are searched and questioned without any warrant, and their rights are violated when police search their person, their property, or their vehicle without undergoing proper procedures.
Wrongful or Malicious Prosecution
In addition to false arrest, victims of police misconduct may face false imprisonment or wrongful and malicious prosecution. Commonly, prosecution will be based on coerced confessions, as well as perjury (false statements) committed by an officer under questioning. Law enforcement officers may also engage in illegitimate practices aimed at “coaching” or manipulating witnesses into making false or misleading statements in order to build a case against criminal defendants without sufficient grounds.
Racial Profiling and Discrimination
Since the tragic death of George Floyd — along with so many others taken unlawfully and before their time — national attention has turned to the extremely imbalanced rates of incarceration, prosecution, and arrest leveled at individuals when examining statistics by race. The State of Illinois’ own law enforcement actions show patterns of bias and discrimination, including the use of deadly force against racial minorities in a greater proportion than 82% of other states.
Seek Damages for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
Many police misconduct cases will result in medical harm and resulting damages. Improper use of force, incarceration facility negligence, and other instances of neglect or misconduct could result in unjustified harm befalling suspects and others who encounter police.
Any time you have suffered an injury — or a loved one has lost a life — because of the wrongful or negligent actions of a law enforcement agency, you have legal recourse. You can seek to establish that the agency is liable (responsible) for the losses (damages) you have suffered as a result of their improper actions or failure to follow procedure.
Establishing Liability for Damages Stemming From Wrongful or Negligent Law Enforcement Acts
In order to make a law enforcement agency or other government entity accountable for the damages you have suffered, you have to be prepared to show that the following occurred:
- The agency had a duty of care to avoid or reduce the risk of harm, as governed by policies, procedures, and state/federal/local laws
- The agency breached their professional standards of care, including through a failure to exercise due diligence or an abuse of their power
- The breach was the most direct (proximate) cause of measurable harm or loss of rights to an individual
- The injury or loss of rights led to damages that can be calculated and sought through the legal system
Damages Potentially Available in a Police Misconduct Case
The appropriate damages to seek in a police misconduct case will vary according to the exact harm suffered and the unique details of the situation. In many cases, the following damages will be sought after proving that the law enforcement officer or agency acted improperly:
- Repayment of medical bills, including recovery of the costs of past medical care as well as the projected costs of any future care needed.
- Restoration of Damage by improper conduct or activities to its original state through repair or replacement
- Lost wages caused by work missed during incarceration or medical recovery, as well as the value of any reduction in wages or benefits caused by the arrest or other incident
- Pain and suffering damages for individuals who have been traumatized and who have been subjected to horrific injuries or other forms of suffering
- Compensation for loss of individual freedoms as a result of improper prosecution, incarceration, conviction, or other wrongful acts
- Punitive damages, which can only be awarded by a jury at the conclusion of a trial and which serve as a deterrent to other law enforcement agencies in order to avoid a repeat of the incident
What to Do When You Suspect Police Misconduct
When you or a loved one have been subjected to overuse of force or another violation of your rights, take the steps below to preserve your ability to report the incident and begin seeking recovery of the damages you have suffered.
- Record the event as soon as you are able. This may involve a video taken while the event unfolds, or it may be a written account after the fact.
- Get the names and badge numbers of all officers involved, as well as contact information for any witnesses.
- Seek prompt medical attention. If you are incarcerated, request care from the nurse, an infirmary, or at a nearby hospital. Make a note of each time care is denied or needlessly delayed.
- Report the incident to the appropriate oversight agency. Incidents involving Chicago Police can be reported to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability1 online or by calling (312) 743-COPA. A report can also be submitted to the Office of the Governor of the state of Illinois, or the Illinois State Police, Division of Internal Investigation2 or the U.S. Department of Justice3.
Get Help From a Proven and Professional Police Misconduct Law Firm
Police misconduct is inflicting harm on our communities and fomenting distrust among the public. The only remedy is to hold police personnel accountable for their improper conduct, seeking restitution of all damages and restoration of all civil rights.
When you are ready to pursue justice, The Personal Injury Lawyers ™ are ready to help. We aren’t afraid to stand up for your legal rights and to take law enforcement to task when they are suspected of overstepping their professional bounds. Our sole goal is to protect you and your civil rights from abuse of power or harmful negligence.
Learn more about your legal rights and options for your case during a free, confidential case review. Schedule your free consultation with an experienced police misconduct attorney team when you call (312) 999-9990 or contact us online.