Across the United States, law enforcement officials are supposed to be the leaders in protecting the rights of all individuals, even when a person has been accused of breaking the law. In Philadelphia, the vast majority of police officers do respect the civil rights of our citizens and suspects of crimes. However, some law enforcement officers cross the line. At Solomon, Sherman & Gabay, we are standing by to help if you need a Philadelphia police misconduct attorney. We will investigate every aspect of your claim in order to determine what happened, prove liability, and help ensure that you are treated fairly.
At Solomon, Sherman & Gabay, we understand that police misconduct can take many forms. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:
Unfortunately, proving police misconduct can be incredibly difficult. Often, this is because law enforcement officials who participate in misconduct regularly cover up the evidence, and they are sometimes aided by others in the department when doing so. It is crucial to have an attorney with experience handling these claims who can use their resources and legal expertise to get to the bottom of what happened.
In general, courts decide these cases on a case-by-case basis, particularly when it comes to excessive force. The court will decide whether or not an officer’s force was reasonable by considering:
There are various reasons that excessive force and misconduct occur. Often, you will hear it suggested that excessive force or misconduct occurs due to combative behavior, a suspect resisting arrest, or verbal confrontations with the suspect. However, there are many other contributing factors that lead to police misconduct and excessive force. This could include:
Any person who needs to file a personal injury claim against police officers in Philadelphia needs to be aware that they have a limited amount of time to do so. In these cases, we will typically follow the Pennsylvania personal injury statute of limitations two which is years from the date an injury occurs. However, there are several factors that could alter this timeframe, and we strongly encourage you to speak to a skilled Philadelphia police misconduct lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to examine all of the facts of the case and help determine the best steps forward for your case.
There may be various parties that play a role in a police misconduct case. These instances often center around the officer or officers involved in the actual incident. However, the reality is that civil liability for these incidents will typically fall to the police department and/or the municipal jurisdiction authority. In these incidents, the insurance carriers of the police department or municipality will usually be the ones handling any eventual settlement or jury verdict.
Liability in a civil case is separate from a police officer being held criminally responsible in these situations. Criminal cases against police officers will be handled in a different court system than any civil liability lawsuit they may face.
Body cameras have become an increasingly used tool for police departments across the US. The push for body cams increased significantly after several high-profile shootings that occurred around 2015, particularly the incident of Walter Scott being shot in the back while running away from police officers in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 4, 2015. The Presidential Administration at the time provided substantial funding and incentives to police departments throughout the country to increase body cam use.
Body cameras worn by police officers have been seen as a way to help reduce misconduct. However, despite body cams now being used by most major departments across the country, the results have been mixed. As most of our readers will have noticed, instances of police brutality and misconduct have certainly not gone away, despite the increased use of body cams. However, researchers recently told PBS “that body camera can still be an effective tool for police reform and transparency when used properly.”
A major problem with body cameras is that officers often have discretion about when they turn their cameras on and off. Researchers say that the best way to reduce police misconduct is for departments to provide strong guidance about when officers can and cannot turn their cameras off.
Even though the use of body cams has increased, this footage alone is not often the sole determination about whether or not police officers are held accountable for their actions. Sometimes, it takes members of the public to record police interactions for officers to face charges or a conviction. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than the murder of George Floyd. In that case, it could be argued that the body camera footage alone would not have been enough to convict Derek Chauvin. The camera footage taken on a cell phone by a young lady at the scene was perhaps the single most important piece of evidence used to convict former officer Chauvin.
If you or somebody you care about have been the victim of police misconduct in or around Philadelphia, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Solomon, Sherman & Gabay, our dedicated team has extensive experience handling complex personal injury and civil rights cases involving law enforcement. Let our attorneys conduct a complete investigation into what happened so we can obtain any compensation you may be entitled to. This can include coverage of your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and possibly punitive damages. When you need a police misconduct attorney in Philadelphia, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 215-665-1100.