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What is police brutality?

The term “police brutality” shows up in a variety of formats, from everything including entertainment to newscasts. However, understanding what this term actually means is paramount when dealing with the legal system in the United States.

It is difficult to determine a single definition of police brutality because it involves a variety of human rights violations. According to Amnesty International, police brutality may include unlawful killings, racial abuse or indiscriminate use of riot control at protests.

Are there laws against police brutality?

Nine states and Washington DC actually have zero laws regarding the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers against civilians. Even worse, 13 states that do have laws regulating this do not comply with the lowest standards set by US constitutional law.

Overall, accountability regarding police using lethal force is severely lacking in the United States as a whole. Unsurprisingly, this has led to an outbreak of protests against police in recent years.

What about New York?

According to Amnesty International, New York is one of the 13 states that do not have laws complying with lower standards set by US constitutional law. There is no state in the US that limits the use of lethal force by police officers except for where there is an imminent threat to the police officer’s life. New York also allows law enforcement officers to kill an individual who is trying to escape from jail.

New York does not require a law officer to give a warning before exercising lethal force. There is also no law in New York prohibiting officers from creating “substantial risk” to bystanders when using lethal force, which essentially means that it would be legal for a civilian to die in police crossfire.

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