Category Archives: Police Brutality

How to Prove Police Misconduct

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Police misconduct occurs when a law enforcement officer commits an illegal act or exhibits inappropriate conduct when carrying out his or her official duties. From acts of police brutality to fraud or coercion, police misconduct can cause serious physical and psychological harm. If you believe that you are the victim of police misconduct, there are a number of steps you will need to take to protect your rights and prove your case with the help of a Bakersfield police misconduct lawyer.

Proving a Case of Police Misconduct

There are multiple pathways you can take to file a complaint against a police officer who commits an act of misconduct.

  • You can file an internal complaint through the officer’s police department.
  • You can file criminal charges against the officer through a state district court. If your case involves certain issues, such as the use of excessive force, you can press charges at the federal level by filing a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) complaint.
  • You can pursue compensatory damages against the police officer by filing a lawsuit against him or her in your state’s civil court.

You can pursue civil and criminal charges against the offending officer simultaneously since they involve two separate proceedings in two types of courts. The burden of proof, or the evidence you will need to establish to prove that misconduct occurred, will differ based on the pathway you choose.

Internal investigations involve their own burden of proof, and you will need to speak to your local police department to determine how to file a complaint. If you are pursuing criminal charges, you will typically need to prove that the following elements are true beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • The officer deprived you of a right protected under the Constitution or U.S. law.
  • The officer acted willfully.
  • The officer was acting under the color of the law, or the officer appeared to act within the law while violating it.

In a California civil lawsuit, you do not need to prove that the officer violated your rights to receive a settlement. Instead, you will need to prove the officer’s liability by establishing a preponderance of the evidence, or that the officer more likely than not committed the misconduct involved in your case.

To accomplish this, you will need to gather enough evidence to prove the misconduct occurred. Different types of police misconduct are subject to specific legal considerations, so it is best to speak to a California police misconduct attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you determine which pathway is right for you and advise you on how to best approach your claim.

What to Do After Experiencing Police Misconduct

Regardless of the type of charges you wish to pursue, there are a number of steps you will need to take to preserve evidence after experiencing an act of police misconduct. As soon as possible after the misconduct, take the following steps.

  • Write down a detailed description of the misconduct, including any quotes you remember verbatim. Only write down facts you know to be true.
  • If you suffered any injuries, take pictures of them and seek medical care. Save all documentation from your visits.
  • Gather the contact information of any witnesses and preserve any physical evidence.
  • Contact a police misconduct attorney as soon as possible.

Speaking to a lawyer is vital to police misconduct cases. Your attorney will help you gather evidence, advocate for your rights during each step of the process, and craft a compelling case while adhering to specific legal requirements.

Different lawyers handle criminal and civil cases, but you can pursue both claims simultaneously. If you wish to file a civil lawsuit or criminal charges against the offending officer, contact the appropriate lawyer as soon as possible.

Posted by highrank at 4:27 pm

Can I Sue The Police For Killing My Dog?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Police officers receive training for many different scenarios, including those involving dogs. Unfortunately, mistakes can and do happen. The heat of the moment, a perceived threat, or miscommunication can all lead to the untimely death of a beloved canine. In these cases, a dog owner can take a few different types of actions to hold the officer/agency accountable and start the recovery process.

Possible Claims Against the Police

A pet owner can look at both federal and state laws to determine the right jurisdiction for a legal claim. Unless an officer commits an act of cruelty that results in the death of the dog, California remedies fall under property-related claims. Under Californian and most other state laws, an owner can sue for the value of the dog, any medical bills for the dog prior to death, and emotional distress. Animal cruelty deaths fall under a different category and may warrant a larger settlement.

Many dog owners choose to file claims against police officers in federal court as a Fourth Amendment violation (illegal property seizure). Depending on the facts of the case, the plaintiff may make an argument for illegal seizure and/or acts of excessive force. In a federal claim, a plaintiff may receive damages for costs associated with the death of the dog, owner mistreatment (if applicable), and personal emotional distress.

While these claims seem straightforward, law enforcement agencies enjoy many protections from both civil and criminal claims associated with dog shootings. Officers enjoy civil action immunity if they acted within the scope of the job and made a good faith attempt to honor an owner’s rights. Officers may also escape liability in claims if they can demonstrate adherence to agency procedures during the incident.

A law enforcement agency may attempt to settle a claim outside of court instead of fighting the accusation. Dog owners must carefully evaluate the settlement offer before accepting or rejecting it. An agency may only offer compensation for the “going rate” of the dog based on its breed, background, and age. This type of settlement may not cover the pain and suffering an owner experiences after experiencing the death of a canine companion.

What to Do After a Police-Driven Canine Killing

Dog owners can take steps immediately after a canine killing incident to protect their rights to compensation:

  1. Call emergency services. Report the incident and request support and an investigation. If you wait to report the incident, investigators may miss important pieces of evidence. As with any injurious incident, a swift investigation can prevent evidence loss or tampering.
  2. Record witness information. Look for any witnesses to the event and write down their contact information. In urban and neighborhood environments, search for any security cameras that might contain footage of the incident. A visual recording can serve as powerful evidence of police misconduct.
  3. Record officer information. If you are present at the time of the killing, ask for the officer’s name and badge number. Officers must file a report every time they discharge their weapons. Investigators can often locate an offending officer, even if the owner did not witness the incident.
  4. Talk to an attorney. Canine killing cases run the gamut from small claims settlements to civil claims worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Until a police misconduct attorney reviews the evidence, avoid taking a settlement or talking about the case.

Law enforcement agencies do not keep data on the number of dogs shot, but one specialist from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services facility estimates officers kill 25-30 companion dogs every day. As social media draws awareness to the ongoing problem and more loving pet owners pursue legal action against the police, standard legal procedures may change. Instead of using lethal force, officers could substitute a non-lethal alternative and avoid unnecessary harm to animals and their owners.

Until law enforcement practices change, pet owners must understand their rights after a dog’s death. They can pursue a civil claim to agency perspectives and receive compensation for their losses.

Posted by highrank at 9:28 pm

Bakersfield Police Killings 2016

Monday, February 27, 2017

The town of Bakersfield, California, is one of the deadliest in the nation – threatened by those who are sworn to protect it.

The city made national headlines in November 2014 when 200 people gathered on the streets to protest the death of James De La Rosa. The unarmed 22-year-old was tasered and shot multiple times by four police officers, creating a shockwave of outrage across the nation. But for locals, the news was sad – yet unsurprising.

According to an analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union, using data from 2008 to 2014, Kern County (home of Bakersfield) experiences more police killings per capita than any other city in California. This story was much more than met the eye, as more recent reports have found that Bakersfield has more police killings than any other area in the entire nation.

Journalists at The Guardian first broke the story when they found that 13 people died at the hands of police in Kern County, home to just 875,000 people, in the first few months of 2015. In comparison, nine people died in all five counties of the NYPD’s jurisdiction, where the population is 10 times higher and there are 23 times more law enforcement officers at work.

A County Plagued by Violence

Officials posit this trend may be due, at least in part, to the fact that Bakersfield is a high-crime area that is plagued by gang-violence, drug-addiction, and epidemic levels of poverty. The city’s homicide rate is 75% higher than the national average and robbery rates are nearly double. Burglary rates are more than double the national average, and the rate of car theft is 300% higher than the national average. Violent crimes, such as those involving a firearm, occurred at a rate roughly equal to one a day in 2014.

These facts don’t provide justification for the 54 police killings over the past decade in Bakersfield, however. Most of these killings were ruled as justified by internal review – judgments made by the same departments that employ the officers who fired the shots.

Shocking History of Misconduct

Eyewitness accounts of police behavior during and following police shootings point to gross misconduct and unethical behavior. Following the shooting of De La Rosa, a police officer was observed wiggling the corpse, which was resting on a hospital gurney. The police officer then said, “I love playing with dead bodies.”

Another police officer on the force killed three people within a three-month span in 2010, including an unarmed 15-year-old boy. Another officer had been involved in four fatal shootings between 2013 and 2015, including De La Rosa’s. None of the deceased were carrying lethal firearms when they were shot: two were unarmed, one was carrying a BB gun, and one was carrying a tire iron. In one killing, an officer opened fire on his own confidential informant during a planned operation when one of the criminals whom the informant was helping the police apprehend pulled out a gun.

A Lack of Departmental Oversight

Perhaps most astonishing is the lack of punishment and oversight for these officers. All were cleared by internal review, and the department itself has not been subject to external scrutiny. These killings and trends are a matter of public record, so why haven’t state and federal officials intervened to investigate foul play within the department? This is, in part, what is driving protests across the country. It represents a failure of not only the department itself, but the system as a whole, which allows unarmed men and women to be shot on the streets by those who have sworn to protect them.

None of these issues are easy to solve, but at the very least, they merit further investigation.

For victims and the families of police shooting victims in Bakersfield, there is another way to get justice. The police misconduct lawyers at Rodriguez & Associates handle police shooting cases and will fight to get you and your family compensation and hold the police department accountable for their actions.

Posted by highrank at 4:50 pm