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Seattle Personal Injury & Premises Liability > Seattle Police Brutality Lawyer

Seattle Police Brutality Lawyer

There has been increased public and media scrutiny of the police in recent years. We all understand that police officers have a difficult and stressful job. But that is no excuse for misconduct that violates the constitutional rights of the citizens that the police are sworn to protect.

The most serious cases of police misconduct involve brutality, often taking the form of physical violence against individual citizens. If you have been the victim of such actions, you have the right to seek monetary compensation through a civil rights lawsuit. The experienced Seattle police brutality lawyer at the Emerald Law Group can review your case and advise you on the best course of action for holding the police and those who employ them accountable.

You May Be Entitled to Damages for Police Misconduct Under Federal Civil Rights Law

The Civil Rights Act of 1871 is a federal statute designed to protect the civil rights of all persons from unlawful state action. Section 1983 of the Act creates a civil remedy for victims of police brutality. Basically, if you can prove that a police officer violated your rights while acting “under color of” law, you can demand compensation from the state or local government that employed that officer.

Some common examples of civil rights violations covered by Section 1983 include:

  • excessive use of force by the police;
  • unlawful arrest of a person falsely accused of a crime;
  • illegal searches by a police officer; and
  • racial profiling by the police under policies such as “stop and frisk.”

Not all failures by officers to uphold a person’s rights are considered Section 1983 violations. For example, the United States Supreme Court held in 2022 that a person could not bring a Section 1983 claim because an officer failed to provide a Miranda warning. Nor is the mere fact that you were arrested for a crime and later acquitted or exonerated necessarily proof of police brutality.

It is also important to understand that police officers–and indeed most government officials–enjoy qualified immunity from personal liability in most cases. This means it is very difficult to sue an individual police officer for violating your rights. But there are exceptions to the qualified immunity rule. And even when an individual officer may not be liable in a civil lawsuit, you can often still sue the city or agency responsible for hiring and training the officer.

And just like any other personal injury claim, if you can show that you were a victim of police brutality in violation of Section 1983 or a similar civil rights law, you are entitled to seek a wide range of damages. This includes any hospital bills, lost income, or property damage arising from police misconduct, as well as non-economic damages for your pain and suffering and ongoing emotional distress. In some cases a jury may even award punitive damages to “send a message” that police brutality will not be tolerated.

Contact Emerald Law Today

Police misconduct is not something you simply have to accept. If you or someone in your family has been the victim of excessive force, false arrest, or racial profiling, you may have a viable civil rights claim. Contact a Seattle police brutality lawyer at the Emerald Law Group today to schedule an initial consultation.

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