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Excessive Use of Force and Civil Rights Violations in New York

In a society predicated on principles of justice and order, law enforcement carries the essential responsibility of upholding the law while being held accountable by it. Police officers, entrusted with maintaining safety and public order, must wield their authority within the boundaries of the law that safeguard the civil rights of each individual. The breach of this delicate balance, particularly through the excessive use of force, signifies not just a betrayal of trust but a direct infringement upon an individual's civil rights—undermining the very foundations of justice and equality. Should you or a loved one suffered a serious injury do to the use of excessive force by a police offer in New York, seeking guidance from a dedicated New York civil rights lawyer becomes imperative for seeking accountability and pursuing justice.

Sanctity of Civil Rights

Civil rights encompass the fundamental liberties and protections afforded to every individual, ensuring their inherent freedoms and equality under the law. In the United States, these rights are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, forming the bedrock of the nation's legal framework. The Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, in particular, play a significant role in cases of excessive use of force and civil rights violations.

The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring law enforcement to obtain warrants based on probable cause. The Eighth Amendment protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment, prohibiting excessive force by authorities. The Fourteenth Amendment ensures equal protection under the law, emphasizing that every person is entitled to fair and equal treatment.

Similar New York State laws also protect civil rights and prohibit the excessive use of force.

Excessive Use of Force

Excessive use of force occurs when law enforcement officers use a level of force that exceeds what is deemed necessary or reasonable given the circumstances. This unwarranted force can lead to severe injuries, harm, or even loss of life. In crossing this line, the rights guaranteed to individuals are violated, necessitating immediate legal action to rectify such breaches. If you were the victim of excessive force, contact an experienced New York civil rights lawyer.

Notable New York Cases About Excessive Force
  • Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). This seminal case established the "objective reasonableness" standard, shaping how courts evaluate claims of excessive force. It emphasized that the reasonableness of a particular use of force should be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene.
  • Plumhoff v. Rickard, 572 U.S. 765 (2014): The U.S. Supreme Court clarified that an officer's use of deadly force to end a dangerous car chase does not violate the Fourth Amendment, further delineating the assessment of excessive force claims.
  • Salim v. Proulx, 93 F.3d 86 (2d Cir. 1996): This Second Circuit Court of Appeals case reaffirmed that excessive force claims must be evaluated based on the circumstances at the time of the incident, accounting for the pressures and split-second decisions officers face.
Building a Strong Case for Damages

Building a successful civil rights case against excessive use of force necessitates a robust understanding of the legal elements crucial to the case's foundation. Here are the key aspects that compose a compelling case:

  • Demonstrating Unreasonable Force. At the heart of every excessive use of force case lies the demonstration of the unreasonableness of the force employed by law enforcement relative to the situation. A meticulous analysis of the incident is required, considering factors such as the perceived threat level, the actions of the victim, and other relevant circumstances. In Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), the U.S. Supreme Court established that claims of excessive force by law enforcement must be evaluated under the "objective reasonableness" standard. This standard necessitates evaluating an officer's actions from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene, considering the pressures and circumstances they faced.
  • Establishing a Violation of Constitutional Rights. Critical to the foundation of the case is the establishment that the excessive force indeed breached the victim's constitutional rights, particularly their Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights. This violation forms the bedrock for initiating legal action. In Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the use of deadly force to apprehend a suspect unless the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.
  • Verifying Causation and Damages. Linking the excessive force directly to the damages suffered by the victim is pivotal. A compelling case requires a demonstration that the excessive force was the direct cause of the injuries and losses experienced by the victim, justifying rightful compensation. In Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961), the U.S. Supreme Court held that any person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, subjects any citizen to the deprivation of their constitutional rights is liable to the injured party, emphasizing the importance of establishing a clear connection between the actions and resulting damages.

Contacting a skilled civil rights attorney in New York is critical to pursuing justice and compensation based on a case involving an excessive use of force.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

In the pursuit of justice and accountability, victims of excessive use of force require not only unwavering support but also the expertise to secure maximum compensation for the damages they have endured. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we embody this dual commitment. Our seasoned legal team not only dedicates itself to upholding the civil rights of those affected by excessive force but also to ensuring that every client receives the maximum compensation they deserve. We tirelessly advocate for justice, leaving no avenue unexplored in holding those responsible accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a civil rights violation in New York, our skilled civil rights attorneys serving New York are your steadfast allies, providing the guidance and support needed to navigate these intricate cases. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Long Island, and Westchester County.

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