Police Violence and What You Should Know

, ,

Police violence is a controversial subject, and you may be wondering, “What do I do if it happened to me or to someone I care about?” Unfortunately, this is a very serious problem that must be addressed. We consistently hear about horrific incidents on a regular basis, complete with video and witness testimony. Most recently, Wanda Cleveland, a 61-year-old white woman in Sacramento, California was a victim of a hit and run by police during a protest against the death of Stephon Clark. Currently, the Sacramento police have been taking a lot of heat for this act as well as their unwillingness to take testimonies by local witnesses, including Guy Danilowitz of the National Lawyers Guild. A look at available videos of the incident is easily available with a simple internet search.

There is no exhaustive list of unjust injuries caused by police officers. However, deaths by police can be tracked via killedbypolice.net, along with a news link for each incident. Upon your own inspection, perhaps you will come to your own conclusion about who is really at fault in each case. Some people feel that these cries against police are all a lie and that the real threat is against law and order and the police force in general. Meanwhile, others are certain that the real issue is systemic prejudice, and they feel that the sheer amount of cases that seem to get swept under the rug serves as proof of this. Still, some people believe that there are a few bad apples on both sides of this argument that make everyone else look bad.

There is no sweeping agreement across the country about who is right in all of this. The truth is that there are some unethical officers that compromise the integrity of all other officers that truly deserve respect for their courageous hard work and devotion to protect and serve. We know that shady cops do, in fact, exist due to the fact that some are found guilty, and it happens more often than some might think.

Unfortunately, even though even the best officers can make honest mistakes, there are also others abuse their power. The suffering they cause can happen to anyone. For this reason, it is good to educate oneself about this legal arena. What happens when you end up on the receiving end of the strong arm of the law?  

Legal Options for Victims of Police Violence

In the midst of these tragedies, here are some things to bear in mind if you or someone you love has been made a victim of police violence:

  • Proving that a police officer is liable for causing harm is very tricky.  If they are negligent and careless, they are still protected by law. Truth is, they are allowed a good amount of legal wiggle room. The burden of proof must show that they willfully acted in an unreasonable manner that violated your civil rights.
  • You MUST act quickly.  Any lull is likely to slowly drain validation from the event that occurred.
  • Contact a civil right lawyer as soon as possible for support throughout this process.  Remember that time is of the essence, so the fastest way to get justice is with qualified legal counsel and guidance throughout this difficult situation, which can get even more complicated very quickly.
  • Keep a detailed record of what happened to you, your pain and suffering, dates and times of hospital visits, medical records, and what you have been doing since to get justice with dates, times, descriptions, media, photos, etc.
  • If the police will not help you, keep a record of that as well and write down EXACTLY what you did to try to get help and what they told you (and who). Consider having your civil rights lawyer to look at what evidence you presented to police to help you make sense of it and possibly present it in a better way.
  • Get yourself familiar with Section 1983, an essential civil rights law that has often helped victims of police.

Remember, if this does happen to you, you must not let time pass without action.  One sure way to get valuable information is to go straight to a civil rights lawyer for legal counsel.