Excessive Force

The public entrusts the government via law enforcement agencies to uphold, preserve, and protect the law. Unfortunately, some individual agents of law enforcement and even policies set forth by the department’s themselves violate the very principles they exist to defend, justice.

Oftentimes, juries and the public believe because an individual was breaking the law, officers were permitted to do so also, throwing away the civil rights granted to all persons via the United States Constitution. The United States Constitution is clear; people who under arrested or otherwise detained maintain the exact same civil rights as before their arrest. These rights are made clear in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

During the past several years, especially with the advent of the body worn camera, there has been a growing conversation and concern regarding police officers’ use of unreasonable and excessive force against civilians, and how these repeated issues of misconduct continue causes many other serious problems. Advances in technology with police-worn body cameras, police car dash camera footage, and everyday citizens’ use of cameras on their smart phones have shed a light on some extreme instances of police use of excessive force, including excessive use of a taser gun and unjustified police shootings. Fortunately, you may have options for obtaining a monetary recovery in the event the police harmed you.

The issue of police brutality has received significant media attention in recent years, and for good reason: law enforcement officers must be held accountable when they use excessive force. The Constitution prohibits the use of excessive force, and a federal civil rights statute permits lawsuits to protect the rights of people who have been harmed by unconstitutional uses of force by police. Federal civil rights laws allow victims of police misconduct to sue under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The civil rights laws were intended to curb oppressive conduct by the government and private individuals acting on the government’s behalf. The lawyers at Cornerstone Legal Group seek to hold police accountable when too much force is used. We seek compensation for victims of excessive force and, when excessive force causes death, we use the legal process to seek answers and obtain compensation for surviving family members.
A question many people frequently ask is what constitutes excessive force? Often people believe the police can use more force than in reality they are allowed. The definition for excessive force, the use of force which is unnecessary and unreasonable given the circumstances at hand.

In cases of police brutality, one of the great advantages of a civil lawsuit is the ability of the attorneys to seek information under the court’s rules of “discovery.” As we begin to litigate your excessive force claim, we may be able to obtain police documentation establishes the narrative of what really happened, and that favors your recollection of events. Without a lawsuit, family members may have limited information, whereas, a properly-plead lawsuit opens the door to discovering much more. We can demand documents, records, and investigative reports. We can take depositions—questioning officers under oath about the details of the force used.

Our experienced attorneys will consider many factors in deciding the best strategy to litigate an excessive force case against a police officer and/or their department. Strategy is critical for success. Against whom should the suit be filed? Where should suit be filed (state court or federal court)? In cases where excessive force causes death, should the victim’s estate be the only plaintiff or should surviving family members sue individually? Should economic damages (lost earnings or net accumulation to the estate) be sought? How detailed must the lawsuit’s allegations be? Are there witnesses, forensic evidence, and other information which can be gathered and reviewed before filing the lawsuit? When must the lawsuit be filed? These are among the many vital questions an experienced police brutality attorney can help answer.

While many people believe an internal investigation which “clears” a law enforcement officer from wrongdoing prevents a civil rights lawsuit for excessive force, but this is not so. At Cornerstone Legal Group, we have repeatedly sued—and obtained excellent results—even when an internal investigation results in a finding “absolving” an officer from having used excessive force. Internal investigations are not binding in a civil matter and may not even be admissible in court. The sad reality is that police agencies often fail to conduct full, thorough, and adequate investigations. Sometimes agencies fail to interview critical witnesses, conduct forensic analysis, and take other steps that are necessary to fully and objectively evaluate what happened. This is why victims and their families need an experienced advocate. Our attorneys prepare thoroughly for every deposition—conducting them strategically, thoughtfully and, when necessary, aggressively. These depositions can lay the foundation for overcoming common defenses and, ultimately, put us in a position to win and/or settle before or at trial.

Here are some of the common types of excessive force claims we help our clients sue for:

  • Wrongful Death
  • Police Brutality
  • Excessive Force
  • Illegal Use of Pepper Spray
  • Unlawful Shooting
  • Unlawful Use of a Taser Gun or Stun Gun
  • Denial of medical treatment or medication to individuals in police custody
  • Injuries resulting from a police chase
  • Improper restraints
  • Sexual assault while in custody

If you were stopped, arrested, or otherwise dealt with a law enforcement agent and were subsequently hassled and/or physically injured, had your freedom deprived, due to unreasonable and excessive use of force, then the state and federal laws may grant you a right to get damages to compensate you for your mental anguish, pain and suffering, plus your other losses.

As advocates for victims of police brutality, we work hard to advance our client’s position in the litigation. We hire experts of all stripes to assist us in the litigation, including high-level law enforcement officers, forensic analysts, scene reconstructionists, doctors who can assist us with determining the nature and extent of injuries and the cause of death, and even experts to analyze pieces of physical evidence. In short, when we take a case against the police, we pursue it with care, diligence, thoughtfulness, and aggression.

At Cornerstone Legal, we have handled excessive force cases involving police shootings. We have handled excessive force cases involving the use of “less lethal’ weapons, such as so-called batons, pepper-spray, and tasers. We have also sued for excessive force when officers hold a person down in a way that impairs breathing, where they use spit hoods, and where individuals are “hog tied” or improperly restrained. And we have obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for victims of excessive force and their families. Our results can be tied to our experience and ability to “read between the lines,” hard work, and our willingness to go to trial if the defense refuses to pay an appropriate settlement.

The attorneys at Cornerstone Legal Group are highly sought-after for their experience litigating many forms of police brutality, abuse and excessive force cases, including cases involving beatings with police batons, the misuse of chemical or pepper spray, the use of “less lethal” guns (a.k.a. “beanbag guns”), and the restraint of individuals with hog-ties, choke holds, positions that impair breathing, “spit hoods,” and the unjustified use of tasers when death or serious injury results. If you or a loved one is a victim of police brutality, abuse or excessive force that caused serious injury or wrongful death, please contact our office to talk about your case. We are open 24/7, and you can hire us from any of the 50 U.S. States or any U.S. territory, and we will become specially appointed Pro Hac Vice with local counsel from your state, if it is one of the states we are not personally licensed within. No matter where you reside, you deserve justice and there is absolutely no cost or obligation for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.