Law enforcement officials in the United States have certain rights in regard to making decisions relating to arrests, restraint and the use of force. While the vast majority of decisions that law enforcement officials make are responsible and just, occasionally errors in judgment occur.
If you have had an experience with law enforcement that you believe was violent, unfair or unjust, it is important that you understand the legal definition of police brutality as well as the historical significance. By understanding the laws in New York, you will be able to take action to defend your rights adequately.
The definition of police brutality
Police brutality is defined as actions taken by law enforcement officials that are objectively viewed to be excessive in nature, either physically or verbally. Police have the duty to respond in a way that is proportionate to the risk that is presented. If a law enforcement official acts with excessive aggression to a low-risk scenario, legal action could be taken.
The history of police brutality
In the late 1800s and in the 1900s, police brutality was permitted in certain circumstances, such as in situations where citizens challenged big corporations. Historically, legal challenges made against police officers were often ruled in favor of law enforcement. Racial stereotyping and discrimination has been said to fuel many instances of police brutality in the past, and this still holds true to some extent today.
In recent years, the police have been subject to considerable criticism in the media due to several high profile cases of alleged police brutality. It’s important to understand the role that discrimination and racial stereotyping can play when it comes to interactions with the police.
Discriminatory assessments of risk
Often, incidents of police brutality can occur when a police officer misjudges the danger in a situation because of the racial profile of the person they are dealing with. Race or gender should never play a role in decisions made by police officers, however.
If you believe that you have had your rights violated when dealing with the police, it is important that you take appropriate action to assert your rights. In certain situations, you may be able to argue that you were subject to a false arrest, or that you suffered from the use of excessive force.