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Bakersfield Police Misconduct Lawyers

Attorneys for Victims of Police Brutality

The police are supposed to be there to protect us from the criminals. We give them the power and authority to do so. We do this by allowing them to do things we can’t do ourselves. For instance, we allow the police to carry guns and other weapons. And, of course, to use them. We trust them to properly use this power and authority. We trust them not to abuse this power and authority we have given them. So, what happens when the police betray our trust? What happens when the people who we trust to protect and serve us betray our trust? Who instead of exercising the power and authority we give them to protect and serve us, choose to abuse that power and authority. And, sometimes not only do the police betray our trust by beating or even killing someone, but then they try to cover up what they did by falsifying reports and even lying under oath. Our Bakersfield police misconduct lawyers are well versed in these types of situations.

Who Can Help?

Who can we turn to? We know that turning to the police themselves usually doesn’t help because that’s like asking the fox to guard the hen house. In almost every case, the people who review complaints against the police are the very police themselves. Every person on the review board is a police officer. The police routinely claim that the reason that they have no civilians on the review board is because the public can’t be expected to be able to fully understand police work. No matter what the facts may be, almost 100% of the time, the police review board finds that the police officer in question acted appropriately and no action is taken against the responsible officer.

How about the local prosecutor? Do prosecutors really review the actions of the police in these cases with an objective and unbiased eye? Well consider this: prosecutors work with the police day in and day out. Prosecutors rely on the police to cooperate and help them win their cases. Too often, we see cases where the prosecutor decides not to file criminal charges against a police officer that would routinely be filed against a civilian. Only in the most outrageous cases, such as the ones captured on video, are ever prosecuted against the police.

So, if we can’t turn to the police nor the local district attorney’s office, who can we turn to? The answer is that in most instances the only thing we can do to hold accountable those officers who betray our trust is to turn to the courts. Usually the only thing available to us is to hire one of the best personal injury lawyers to file a lawsuit against the officer and the law enforcement agency that the officer works for. And then, it’s not going to be a walk in the park. To the contrary, these types of lawsuits are some of the toughest to win.

Lawsuits Can Be Won

But, these lawsuits can be won. You just need a talented police misconduct lawyer who has the experience, know-how and the courage to take on the police. You need an attorney who knows a little bit about:

  • Ballistics
  • DNA and other identifying techniques
  • Police Rules and Guidelines
  • Use of Force Rules

Here at Rodriguez and Associates, we’ve handled these types of cases for over 80 years combined. Our Bakersfield police misconduct attorneys have gone up against some of the biggest law enforcement agencies in the country; such as the Los Angeles Police Department. We’ve taken on law enforcement agencies from Kern, Los Angeles, Ventura, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, San Bernardino and other counties. We’ve even taken on the New Orleans Police Department. And, we’ve won. In fact, we have obtained some record setting settlements and verdicts in these cases.

What happens if no one is willing to take on these tough cases? The same thing that would happen in any case where the wrongdoer knows there are no consequences to his bad choices and bad actions. Someone who knows they can get away with doing something wrong will continue that bad behavior. And, here’s the worst thing about not holding people accountable for their bad choices, other people around them will think they can get away with it too. That’s not something that we want for us, our families nor our communities.

So, if you think you or a family member or friend has been the victim of police misconduct, contact the attorneys at Rodriguez and Associates. You might not only be doing them a favor, but the entire community as well.

How to Report Police Brutality

The police departments in the United States have a duty to protect and serve their communities while upholding the law, but what happens if you witness a police officer exceed the bounds of his or her authority? It can be very intimidating to think about confronting the police, but it’s vital to understand your rights and know your legal options in the face of police overreach or brutality.

It’s important to recognize that everyone must be held accountable for their actions when they break the law – and that includes the police. If you find yourself in a questionable situation involving a police officer, keep the following tips in mind to help you build a solid case.

What to Do at the Scene

First, if you feel threatened by a police officer or witness a police officer brutalizing another person, remain calm and try to record as many details as possible. Smartphones are invaluable tools, as almost every smartphone has some sort of video camera. If recording is not an option, do your best to remain calm and remember as many pertinent details as possible. After the incident, take the time to write down everything you saw and gather information from other witnesses.

Witness testimony will be crucial to building a case. If you are a witness to someone else’s victimization, be sure to report only the facts you completely recall – inaccuracies, half-truths, and outright fabrications will severely damage your chances of winning a case.

Next Steps

If you are arrested, consult with a police brutality attorney as soon as possible. Provide your legal counsel with every possible detail of the encounter from beginning to end. Again, report only things you know for certain. If a detail is worth mentioning but you can’t completely recall exact words or the course of events, be sure to indicate this to your attorney.

If you were not arrested but witnessed another person being brutalized by police, it’s still a good idea to reach out to an attorney. If police violated another person’s rights and you have information that could help them, you should attempt to do so. Regardless of whether you were arrested or merely a witness, your attorney will consider your report of the incident and determine whether there is a strong enough case to file a lawsuit.

If you were not charged with a crime and you are not suing the police, file a Police Misconduct Report right away. If you are involved in a lawsuit, wait to file this report until all the civil actions and criminal charges are handled – filing a Police Misconduct Report before then will impede your case and may hurt your chances of a successful lawsuit. Regardless of when you file this report, be sure to make copies to keep for your records.

Know Your Options

There are three methods to file a complaint about police brutality:

  • Internal complaints, filed through the offending officer’s police department. Every police department has a system for fielding civilian complaints about officers, and typically, a separate police division handles the investigation of these claims. The obvious drawback to this method is that the investigation is entirely internal, and the offending officer usually faces only discipline handed down from his or her superiors.
  • Criminal complaints are filed in situations where an officer has violated someone’s civil rights. Excessive force and brutality qualify for this type charge. A federal criminal civil rights prosecution is the most effective method of pursuing justice against an officer who has violated another person’s human rights.
  • Civil suits. You must hire an attorney to represent you for a civil suit. An attorney will weigh the details of a case to determine the best way to pursue a settlement.

Regardless of the situation, your best option is to consult with an experienced police misconduct attorney. Whatever the details of your case may be, an attorney will be able to determine the best course of action for seeking justice.

Police Shootings in Kern County

The police exist to serve the community and keep us safe, and they have one of the most demanding jobs out there. Training to become an officer of the law is arduous. Indeed, many candidates fail to meet the physical or mental standards to carry a badge and gun.

Unfortunately, training doesn’t always weed out candidates who are unqualified to serve their communities. Recently, cases of police brutality and questionable litigation have come to light. This is especially true in Kern County, California, which claims the highest shooting-related deaths (relative to the population) of any county in the nation.

In 2015, Kern County police fatally shot 13 people. Compare this number to a larger population, like Los Angeles County. Even though it has a much-higher population density and more police on the force, Kern County reports 300% more deaths by police per 100,000 residents. Of those 13 killed last year, six were in the city of Bakersfield.

Police Shootings in Bakersfield

Police are under remarkable pressure. They routinely make split-second decisions that protect their lives and the residents whom they have sworn to serve. Accordingly, officers must exercise flawless judgment when they face a threat. Making the wrong decision or acting prematurely can lead to terrible consequences, such as the numerous fatal shootings in Bakersfield and the subsequent investigations.

Why are police shootings in this area so prominent? Whether it’s the city’s location, its high crime rate, or demographic differences between the citizens and the authorities, the answer isn’t immediately clear. Officers often cite actions such as reaching toward one’s waistline, into pockets, or carrying unknown objects as justification for discharging a firearm. Though the majority of police officers are committed to upholding the city’s high standards, a few do exercise their authority in reprehensible ways. Whether that manifests as police brutality, an unwarranted shooting, or sexual assault, the victims and their families deserve just compensation.

Investigations into police shootings in towns like Bakersfield are especially complicated, because officers and officials in the same social circles are conducting the investigations. Often, the parties who decide whether a shooting was justified come from the same departments as the officers in question – a clear conflict of interest. This is one of the many reasons qualified representation is essential in these situations.

Remuneration for the Victims and Their Devastated Families

Court proceedings for these cases can be drawn-out and are often incredibly complicated. Police fulfill an important role and put their lives in danger every time they go to work. It’s often difficult for them to make the split-second decisions required to keep themselves and others safe. In many of these cases, though, officers go far beyond this duty, entering a realm where their actions are completely unjustifiable and heinous. In such situations, it’s important to have expert representation supporting you through what will certainly be a trying time.

The victims of malicious police shootings may face resistance from local governments as criticism from the community. When a family is already devastated by the loss of a loved one, it may seem impossible to find justice.

As reporters and outside authorities continue to uncover the truth behind these events, it’s important for the citizens of California to understand their rights and request legal representation from a skilled police misconduct or police brutality attorney whenever they need it. The team at Rodriguez & Associates is composed of local attorneys who are actively involved in the community and will do everything in their power to ensure your rights are protected – regardless of the people you’re up against. Contact us today to get started on your claim or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Can I Sue Police for Destruction of Property?

When police have a warrant, they must occasionally damage property to perform their duties and execute the warrant. This may include breaking down doors, using battering rams, and searching the premises. Breaching a residence or house may result in structural damage, and thoroughly searching the premises may necessitate breaking through drywall, inspecting ductwork, and dismantling appliances.

In some situations, the owners of the property will have no route for compensation for their damaged property if the officers perform their duties within the scope of the warrant. However, if there is excessive damage or any indication of malicious intent from the officers, a claim for compensation may not be entirely out of the question.

Proper Execution of a Warrant

When carrying out a search or arrest warrant, police officers are typically permitted to do whatever is deemed reasonably necessary to carry out their task. They may need to break down doors or break through windows, or damage other property in order to locate evidence or apprehend a suspect. Some warrants are called “no-knock” warrants, in which the police executing the warrant are not required to knock on the door and announce their intention to enter and execute a warrant.

The logic behind no-knock warrants is that the element of surprise helps reduce property damage and the potential for violence. However, many agree the opposite is true. The residents of the premises in question may be quick to react to people suddenly and forcefully entering their homes and meet the perceived threat with force, requiring a similar response from the police.

When officers knock and announce their intentions but are refused entry, they are then permitted to execute the warrant through forcible entry. If the police have a warrant to search your home and you refuse them entry, it is highly unlikely you will have any legal recourse to pursue compensation.

Excessive Force Claims

If an individual believes a police officer or officers exceeded the amount of force necessary to execute a warrant, a claim of excessive force by police may be filed. Due to the nature of police fieldwork, the courts regard the force used at the time of the incident from the point of view of an officer on the scene, rather than using hindsight. For example, the use of force may have been deemed necessary at the time due to a perceived threat, when it was later revealed no real threat was actually present. The officers cannot be expected to make entirely thorough decisions in a split second, and must rely on their training to keep themselves and fellow officers safe while performing their duties.

Documentation is absolutely critical to successfully pursing an excessive force claim. If your home was entered by officers executing a search warrant and you believe they were either excessively forceful or intentionally malicious while carrying out their duties, it’s critical to document everything you can about the scene. Photographs of all the damage, invoices for repairs, estimates, and any other documentation related to the expenses resulting from the damage will be critical to your case.

Although these cases are difficult to pursue, victims can pursue claims against police due to violations the Civil Rights Act, on the grounds that more than a reasonable amount of force was used against their properties. However, the Supreme Court has stated that just because the police damage property while they execute a search warrant doesn’t mean they did anything wrong.

Navigating claims in these situations can be extremely difficult, and one of your best resources will be a reliable and experienced police misconduct attorney. If you believe you were the victim of excessive force or that police were malicious during the execution of warrant, contact a personal injury law firm skilled in such cases.