Santa Clara Police Brutality Lawyers
Advocating for the rights of victims of police misconduct in the Bay Area
We’ve all heard it. These days it’s virtually impossible to turn on the television or skim through social media without seeing a news story, almost daily, about a police incident where someone wound up dead or injured during an incident that the police responded to. It has prompted much discussion about countermeasures to be put into place, the staggering cost of body cams for departments, and holding the police accountable – mostly due to increased public outcry.
Police brutality comes in many forms and occurs across all walks of life, though certain segments of the population statistically experience a higher incidence rate. Taylor & Ring will not stand for anyone to have his or her civil rights taken away without due process, and we fight for the rights of the citizens of Santa Clara and San Jose every day.
The statistics for police misconduct are alarming
According to the website, mappingpoliceviolence.org:
- In 2017 alone, police killed 1,147 citizens.
- In 2018, there were only 23 days during which there were no killings by police.
- Black citizens are 3 times more likely to die at the hands of the police than white citizens.
- 30% of black victims who were killed by police were unarmed, and 21% of white victims were unarmed.
- Of the 100 largest police departments in the country that have killed citizens, 13 killed black men more than any other ethnicity, and 8 of those 13 departments are located in California.
These statistics only represent deaths at the hands of police, and do not include injuries sustained from beatings, or other deprivation of civil rights.
Brutality perpetrated by the police is not an acceptable culture
Police brutality is, unfortunately, not a new concept. Neither are the reasons behind it. Racism is the predominant factor that has instigated attacks on citizens by law enforcement for decades. While under the wrong circumstances, anyone can become a victim of police brutality, minorities are overwhelmingly often the targets who wind up in hospitals and morgues.
The abuse of power began in 1938 when the first police department formed in Boston, which focused its cruelty on European immigrants, which was followed by savage attacks on African Americans who fled the South to northern states. Even 10 years before the first police department evolved, African Americans, who only constituted 5% of the population at the time, accounted for 30% of police killings. Looking at current statistics, nothing has changed in the last 90 years.
Some officers today are less hesitant to use lethal force when they are unsure of a situation because, despite the training they have received, they have grown up in a world that has normalized police brutality until somewhat recent history. Changing the culture and bridging the gap of mistrust between the police and the communities they are supposed to serve has to become the priority if we are going to substantially decrease civil rights violations.
Types of brutality that police have inflicted on citizens
In the 1960s, police employed tactics such as releasing police dogs, and using fire hoses and billy clubs on citizens. Today, we are more likely to see the use of tasers, firearms, pepper spray, beatings, and rough take-downs in trying to initiate an arrest as younger officers enter law enforcement and learn what is “acceptable” from their predecessors.
Police brutality involves an excessive use of force, which can be subjective based upon the situation. That said, guns are supposed to be used as a last resort, and suspects are not supposed to become victims of unnecessary assault when an overzealous officer loses control.
Police misconduct is not limited to physical force, however. False arrests that limit your movement and prevent you from leaving the area is another example of depriving you of your civil rights. You could also experience:
- Verbal abuse
- Psychological intimidation
- Racial profiling
- Sexual abuse
- Police corruption
Improper tactics used under the guise of controlling a dangerous situation have been the norm, but are falling under increased scrutiny as technology advances and incidents become more publicized.
Who is held accountable for police brutality in the Bay Area?
Historically, law enforcement has been shielded from consequences. Even if you are young, you have probably heard the name of Rodney King and you likely associate it with a dark period involving the Los Angeles Police Department severely beating Rodney King in 1991 after a high speed car chase. After a 3 month trial, a mostly white jury acquitted the officers accused of assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force. The city burst into riots that lasted nearly a week.
Today, police are beginning to be held accountable for their unwarranted attacks on citizens.
In January 2019, an Illinois police officer was found guilty for fatally shooting teenager, Laquan McDonald.
In March 2019, a Florida police officer was found guilty of the manslaughter and attempted murder of Corey Jones, a 31-year-old stranded motorist.
In April 2019, a Minnesota police officer was found guilty of shooting and killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who called 911.
Filing a 1983 claim and The Bane Act claim to compensate you for violations of your civil rights
The filing of a “1983 claim” refers to Title 42 of the U.S. Code of laws dealing with civil rights. Section 1983 of that title permits a citizen to sue state government employees for deprivation of his or her civil rights. This includes the ability to sue law enforcement agencies and their officers when they have improperly deprived a citizen of his or her civil rights, including improperly detaining or brutalizing a citizen.
Under a 1983 claim, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. The compensatory damages you may recover include medical costs, lost wages and future earnings, both physical and emotional pain and suffering, and disability or loss of normal life.
Under The Bane Act, California Civil Code § 52.1, victims may have other options for recovering damages. The Bane Act tosses aside the relevancy of whether race plays a part in the attack. The only consideration given is whether there was an “interference or attempted interference with the [victim’s] legal rights by the requisite threats, intimidation, or coercion.”
Damages you could be entitled to receive under The Bane Act include, actual damages, statutory damages, exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees.
Time limits for filing a claim
To file a civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, the state statute of limitations for personal injury claims would be applicable. In California, this means a victim has 2 years in which to sue a police department who has injured him or her.
The same 2-year statute of limitations period applies to state civil rights claims under The Bane Act.
Seeking help from legal and mental health professionals is the path to healing
If you have been a victim of police brutality, you need to take steps to protect your rights to prevent further violations. Get the names of all witnesses to the incidence, including the names of all police officers involved, or who are on the scene.
Take photos of your injuries immediately to help document the incident. If you are unable to do so, have someone who is available take and preserve the photos for you. Take additional photos at various stages of healing to detail the ordeal you are experiencing.
You should also seek medical attention immediately, and obtain a medical opinion as to the extent of your injuries. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health after experiencing police brutality. You may need to attend counseling to help you deal with your anger, fear, anxiety, and other emotions as a result of what you have experienced.
Our Bay Area attorneys seek to protect you from those who should have
We are taught throughout our lives that the police are there to serve and protect us. Whether you have actually done something that warrants your arrest, or you are just a bystander caught in the middle of a conflict, you possess basic civil rights that no one has a right to trample. If you are the victim of police brutality, Taylor & Ring wants to hear your story and help you bring your attackers to justice. Talk to our lawyers today at 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation with one of our compassionate civil rights attorneys serving Santa Clara, San Jose, and the entire Bay Area.