Excessive Force by Law Enforcement
Experienced & Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyers
The majority of police officers throughout the Austin area are ethical, hardworking individuals who defend and protect citizens across the city from people who would do us harm. But like every profession, there are some bad seeds within the police force who take things too far and abuse their power through the use of excessive force. At DC Law, we hold police officers accountable who violate the public’s trust by using excessive force and fight for the compensation their victims deserve.
What is Excessive Force?
Police officers are allowed to use force to subdue a suspect or make an arrest if the situation calls for it. Simply because an officer uses force does not automatically rise to the level of excessive. The question for excessive force is whether the police used more force than was necessary given the circumstances. An officer is allowed to use more force if a suspect is resisting than with a suspect who goes into custody quietly and may even use deadly force if someone pulls a weapon. However, if a police officer utilizes means to subdue or arrest that go far beyond what a reasonable person would do in that situation given the specific facts of the case, the officer can be held liable for excessive force.
In many excessive force lawsuits, police utilized or were shown using the following when pursuing or arresting a person for a suspected crime:
Burden of Proof for Excessive Force
While criminal charges may be brought against an officer for the use of excessive force, the victim of this action may also bring a civil lawsuit against the officer who committed the act. Typically, this type of lawsuit is known as a Section 1983 case, where the victim alleges violations of their rights under the Civil Rights Act and Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Unlike criminal cases, where the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used in the situation was excessive, the victim in a civil case must only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that excessive force was used. This means that the court must only be more sure than it is not that the officer used excessive force in order to hold them monetarily liable for any damages caused by the incident.
Compensation for Excessive Force
If found liable for the use of excessive force in civil court, an officer must compensate the victim for economic and noneconomic damages caused by the attack. Economic damages include costs for medical bills, lost wages, and any loss of future income or benefits. Noneconomic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, and any loss of enjoyment of life.