What Is Considered Police Abuse Under New York Law?

Last updated on July 14, 2023

One form of police abuse is called “Excessive Force” which is when police officers use physical force against someone in excess of what is reasonable under the circumstances. A reasonable amount of force may be used to maintain physical control over someone that the police are taking into custody, however, it can’t become just a way of punishing someone by physically injuring them. Other forms of police abuse include False Arrest, False Imprisonment, and Malicious Prosecution. 

All forms of police abuse involve the police violating someone’s rights. Generally, however, when someone is speaking about police abuse, they mean physical abuse in the form of Excessive Force. This can take the form of being struck, pushed, slapped, or otherwise physically assaulted. In more extreme cases, Excessive Force can include assault with a baton, Taser, or firearm resulting in serious injury or even death. Police departments vary widely as to the extent and quality of the training they provide officers in the appropriate use of force and all too often do not sufficiently discipline officers with a history of using excessive force.

If you or your loved one have been a victim of police abuse, it is crucial to seek legal assistance immediately. At the Law Offices of Jason Bassett, we are committed to fighting for your rights and seeking justice on your behalf. Experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney Jason Bassett has a deep understanding of New York law and can thoroughly investigate the incident, gather evidence, and build a strong case to hold those responsible for the abuse accountable for their actions. Contact us at (631) 259-6060 and let us provide the support and representation you deserve.

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How Can I Prove That Police Used Excessive Force When They Hold All The Evidence?

Once a lawsuit against the police for excessive force is initiated, a victim plaintiff has certain rights to discovery. Discovery includes the right to demand that the police provide certain items of evidence including documents, reports, records, and recordings. The victim’s lawyer can question police by demanding answers to written questions as well as during questioning of police officers in person under oath at depositions. Evidence can also be obtained through other sources, including medical records, witness interviews, cell phone videos, and security camera recordings. An attorney experienced at bringing Excessive Force lawsuits knows where to look for proof and how to force the police department and other parties to provide the evidence needed to prevail.

What Factors Are Weighed When Deciding Whether An Officer Has Used Excessive Force?

A police officer is generally allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to place someone in custody. What is considered the appropriate amount of force depends on the particular circumstances involved and is done on a case-by-case basis. Factors that are considered include the severity of the underlying crime or circumstances, whether the person was attempting to resist arrest or flee, whether or not that person was posing a physical threat to the safety of the police officers, whether the person was already in custody (for example, in handcuffs), whether appropriate warnings were given before the police use of force.

What Constitutes A False Arrest? How Do You Prove It?

False Arrest is a claim made that the police arrested someone when they knew or should have (or easily could have) known that there was no probable cause for the arrest. “Probable Cause” is often defined as facts sufficient to cause a reasonable person to believe that a crime had been committed. In order to be able to pursue a False Arrest claim, the person arrested must not have been later convicted either by plea or after trial. Proving a False Arrest claim involves examining what information was available to the police at the time of the arrest either through eyewitnesses, physical evidence, or police databases.

How Do I Sue the Police for Violating Civil Rights?

When taking legal action against the NYPD, there are several stages your case will typically go through: notice of claim, pleadings, discovery, settlement negotiations, and trial.

  • Notice of Claim: In order to initiate a lawsuit against the NYPD, it is necessary to commence by filing a notice of claim. This entails formally notifying the New York City Comptroller’s Office within 90 days of the incident. This notice is a requirement for claims against the NYPD under state law and operates independently of the statute of limitations in New York. Its purpose is to provide the NYPD with an opportunity to preserve pertinent evidence, such as body camera footage. It is crucial to adhere to the 90-day notice rule, as failure to do so may lead to the dismissal of your lawsuit, except in specific exceptional circumstances.
  • Pleadings: Once the notice of claim has been filed, your lawsuit officially commences when your attorney submits a complaint to the court. The complaint outlines all the legal claims you are asserting against the NYPD, encompassing both factual and legal assertions. Upon receiving the complaint, the defendants (NYPD and its officers) will file an “answer,” which serves as their response to the allegations in the complaint. In the answer, they may admit or deny the stated allegations and may also assert defenses.
  • Discovery: During the discovery stage, both parties exchange relevant information, a process that can be time-consuming. This stage involves conducting depositions, where witnesses provide sworn testimony, and potentially issuing subpoenas to obtain records from various entities. By the conclusion of the discovery stage, both sides should have a more comprehensive understanding of the events surrounding the incident.
  • Motions: At this point, both sides may file legal motions addressing the facts that have emerged during the discovery process. Typically, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss the case. If the judge denies the motion and the defendant does not make an acceptable settlement offer, the case will proceed to trial.
  • Settlement Negotiations: Settlement negotiations can take place at any stage of the case, but they often carry more weight after the discovery process. Armed with a better understanding of the case’s value, both sides engage in negotiations. Defendants may choose to settle early if they anticipate greater damages emerging from the discovery process, while plaintiffs may seek early settlements if they do not expect the case’s value to increase.
  • Trial: In a trial, a jury assesses whether you have successfully proven that the police violated your rights. If the jury rules in your favor, they will determine the amount of compensation that the police must provide for their misconduct.

Consulting with a qualified attorney is crucial when dealing with legal matters, particularly those involving civil rights violations. At the Law Offices of Jason Bassett, our experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney possesses the necessary knowledge of relevant laws, precedents, and strategies to effectively advocate for your rights and maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. Get in touch with us now to arrange a free consultation.

Stages for Suing the Police for Violating Civil Rights Description
Notice of Claim Filing a formal notice with the New York City Comptroller’s Office within 90 days of the incident to initiate the lawsuit.
Pleadings Submitting a complaint outlining legal claims against the NYPD, followed by the defendants filing an “answer” in response.
Discovery Exchanging relevant information, conducting depositions, and issuing subpoenas to obtain records during this time-consuming stage.
Motions Filing legal motions, such as a motion to dismiss the case, based on facts revealed during the discovery process.
Settlement Negotiations Engaging in negotiations for a potential settlement at any stage, with more weight often given after the discovery process.
Trial Presenting the case before a jury, who assess whether the police violated civil rights and determine compensation for any misconduct found.

Is A Video Of An Interrogation Where I Repeatedly Say No and Then Confess Under Duress Enough To Show I Was Being Harassed?

Typically when an interrogation by the police takes place, the police claim to have had probable cause to take the person into custody. If the police did in fact have probable cause to take the person into custody, then there wouldn’t be a valid claim of False Arrest. Just the fact alone that a person repeatedly said no and then finally confessed wouldn’t be enough to give them a case against the police officers involved. If it can be shown, however, that the police placed the person interrogated under duress thru illegal tactics such as physical force, intimidation, or coercion, a successful action could be brought against the officers.

For more information on Police Abuse In The State Of New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Contact us and get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (631) 259-6060 today.

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