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How to Act When Faced With Police Misconduct

The Sanders Firm

Hopefully, it never happens, but in the event that you are someday victimized by a police officer abusing his power, it is important that you know how to act, in order to avoid being falsely prosecuted for something you did not do, and hopefully to prevent future incidents by bringing the abusive police officer to justice. Hopefully, you never need this, but in case you do, here are some helpful tips in protecting your civil rights:

You have the right to remain silent. Use it!

Do not shout at the police officer, threatening to sue them for all they’ve got. If you threaten to sue, the officer is likely to immediately begin “building” their defenses. It is very likely that you will have a much more difficult time proving abuse in court if you alert them to your intentions. Although it may be extremely difficult, just remain as quiet as possible, and limit your responses to questions that you absolutely must answer. Do not answer any other questions. If you are injured, REQUEST MEDICAL ASSISTANCE. Simply state that you are injured that you need immediate medical attention. Police Officers have a legal obligation to immediately obtain medical assistance for you.

Try to remain alert and aware of your surroundings.

Be sure to make a mental note of the police officer’s name and shield number (Under no circumstances are you to verbally ask the police officer for his name and shield (badge) number). Be sure to make a mental note of the physical description of the police officer including clothing, hair, height and weight. If the police officer is traveling in a vehicle, whether it is marked or unmarked vehicle, the color and type of vehicle. Sometimes unscrupulous police officers will intentionally obstruct the identifying marks (such as the license plate or tag) on the vehicle so pay particularly close attention to the physical description of the vehicle including any damage. Be sure to make a mental note of the location of the interaction with the police officer including the time of day, etc. Try to remember conversations that took place between you and the police officer. In particular, listen very closely to conversations between the police officer and his partner, the police officer and the radio dispatcher or any conversations between persons near you. These observations will be invaluable pieces of information to help build your case.

Under no circumstances should you fight back.

Utilizing physical force against a police officer, regardless if they are acting unlawfully or not, may give them legal justification to exercise physical or even deadly physical force against you. Under no circumstances should you try to escape; such actions only increase the likelihood that physical or even deadly physical force may be used against you. Additionally, you risk the chance that you will be charged with resisting arrest. Remember, even if you are innocent, the very act of resisting arrest is a crime, and you may be convicted of that charge alone even if any other charges have been dismissed or you were found not guilty.

First things first.

If you plan on filing a civil rights lawsuit against the police officer or his employer, do not take any action until you have attended to your immediate needs, such as medical needs or charges against you (if any). When the time comes, and you wish to file a civil rights lawsuit, please make sure and consult with an experienced civil rights lawyer, who can review your case.

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