Excessive Force by Law Enforcement in Atlanta and Throughout Georgia


July 03, 2011

Police officers generally are very conscientious about their job, but there are limits to the amount of force or violence that a police officer can use in carrying out their job duties. Sometimes those limits and boundaries are exceeded by officers, which can result in serious injuries or wrongful death.

Every year there are over 500,000 reports of police abuse filed by victims of this type of brutality. Of course many of these are false allegations by someone who has committed a crime that is trying to avoid the consequences. But in some situations the claims are legitimate.Dealing with these becomes expensive to the municipalities when these misconduct cases go to court. Settlements and judgements amount to over $100 million each year.

When a law enforcement officer uses excessive force on an U.S. citizen, the Federal Civil Rights Act may give that citizen the right to sue the government depending on the circumstances. You will want to enlist the help of an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney because there are strict time frames that must be adhered to, and the whole process can be confusing and a bit intimidating.

What is Police Brutality?

Excessive force by police officers can take a number of different forms. In one particularly outlandish example, police on the UCLA campus engaged in extreme and inexplicable behavior when they stunned a student with a taser gun for not producing his student ID when asked. The student was Iranian in descent and felt that he was being racially profiled. He was studying in the library when he was asked to produce his ID. Students nearby captured the violence on their cell phones as the officers tasered the student. The student filed a lawsuit alleging that UCLA and its police department violated his civil rights.

In another confrontation in an I-Hop Restaurant, a woman was struck in the face by a police officer when she tried to help another woman whom the police officer was allegedly attacking after he told her she had to stop yelling in the restaurant. The event was caught on tape and the officer is on administrative leave. There were two completely different stories told by the women and the police officers and alcohol was involved, so this case will have to be investigated and a lot of facts gathered, and eye witnesses will need to be interviewed to try and piece together what actually happened. Some examples of police brutality can include:

  • Assault and battery, stun gun use, shootings, beatings
  • False arrest, false imprisonment, any unlawful confinement
  • Sexual assault, rape, molestation
  • Denial of rights to a prisoner
  • Fatal shootings, taser deaths, manslaughter, murder

Structuring a Case

The question that will need to be answered when looking at whether or not you can sue for police brutality, is whether or not the police officer used excessive force against you. This requires a lot of proof and evidence so facts must be gathered and carefully evaluated.

In a police brutality case, it is imperative to establish that the force used against the victim was a clear violation of established federal law or Constitutional protections. Police officers have a lot of authority when it comes to the use of force in their jobs, but they must act within the law.

The Doctrine of Qualified Immunity

This doctrine provides that as long as a law enforcement officer is acting within the scope of his discretionary authority, he has some degree of immunity for his acts unless he clearly violates established legal precedent concerning his conduct. The applicable legal standard is whether or not a reasonable officer in the same situation would have used the same degree of force given the situation. If it is found that a reasonable officer would have used the same degree of force, then the officer may not be liable for resulting injuries or wrongful death.

Your Rights

If you or a loved one has been victimized by police brutality, then you should seek legal advice from a Georgia personal injury attorney. These cases can be quite complex and require careful development of factual proof that the officer’s conduct is sufficient to give rise to liability. The impact of the doctrine of qualified immunity also needs to be considered. A victim of excessive force by a police officer should not shy away from exploring their legal rights and the pursuit of a civil rights case against an officer, because sometimes liability is appropriate.

An experienced Georgia personal injury attorney may be able to advise you regarding whether the officer’s conduct was unreasonable and constituted excessive force above and beyond his scope of authority and discretion. Other officers and the police department may not cooperate so it is important to work with an experienced Georgia police brutality attorney.

Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Posted by David Montlick
Montlick & Associates, Atlanta Auto & Truck Accident Attorneys offer your family a free consultation. For more information, please visit www.montlick.com.

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied up as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.