Police officers are supposed to protect a person’s rights when enforcing the law, yet police brutality, which violates a person’s constitutional rights, is a big problem. Wrongful shootings, tasings, and beatings are, disturbingly, common forms of police brutality.
Police officers have the right to protect themselves from threats of harm, but they cannot do so unreasonably. They have to be accountable for their actions so that they don’t endanger themselves or anyone else unnecessarily.
Take, for instance, the case of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by an officer after he was pulled over for a broken taillight. The officer thought Mr. Castile was reaching for a gun, so he wrongfully shot him. The verdict of this case ended in the release of the officer on all counts he was accused of. Read more about this tragedy here.
In light of recent gang activity, President Trump promoted rough policing in a speech. “Please don’t be too nice”, he said to police officers, who try to protect arrestees’ heads when guiding them into the back of a police car. This kind of attitude – that police are always in the right, and civilians in the wrong – accepts the morally wrong and offensive behavior of some police officers, and allows it to continue.
Police officers act as agents of the government, so the U.S. Constitution defines the limits of their power. If a police officer abuses his or her power when interacting with a person, it’s a direct violation of the person’s constitutional rights. Not only is it unfair—it’s illegal.
This infographic is a helpful tool for people who are looking to learn about or brush up on the rights they have when interacting with police officers.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by an officer’s excessive and unnecessary force, you are entitled to financial compensation through a police misconduct claim. In the event of a wrongful death, there are legal remedies available to help the family members of victims.