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When "to serve and protect" turns into brutality

When the police in Michigan attempt to apprehend a suspect, it is reasonable that they should use some amount of force. However, there is a situational limit for the amount of force a law enforcement officer should use. For example, if a police officer pulls you over for speeding and you have a warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket, you would not expect that officer to throw you to the ground and subdue you the same way as he would a violent criminal.

In general, the law permits police officers to use the minimum amount of force necessary to control the situation and protect themselves and others from harm. When law enforcement officers cross this line, it becomes police brutality.

Fortunately, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees our right to "be free from excessive force." Furthermore, the Eighth Amendment protects us from cruel and unusual punishment. A Farmington Hills officer that uses excessive force may be violating both of these Amendments. Read further to find out more about police brutality and your options if you are a victim.

Excessive force

As stated above, police officers should only use the amount of force necessary to take control of a situation and ensure the safety of bystanders. This means that an officer should only use deadly force if absolutely necessary. The Supreme Court has determined that deadly force during an arrest is only appropriate in order to prevent the escape of a suspect that the officer believes is very likely to cause the death or injury of another.

Deadly force does not have to occur for police brutality to exist. In the first example involving a warrant for a traffic ticket, if the arresting officer uses enough force to cause even a minor injury to an individual that is cooperating and not resisting, there could be a case for unreasonable force or brutality.

Force must equal threat

In general, officers must use a level of force that matches the threat they are facing. There are certain methods that officers should use when facing different situations. For instance, the officer's physical presence might be enough to handle certain circumstances. If this is not enough, then the officer should use verbal requests and statements to encourage cooperation.

When things become more threatening, an officer might engage in physical contact such as grabs, holds, or punches and kicks. As the danger increases, a law enforcement officer may need to switch to more forceful tactics such as a taser, baton or police dog. Lethal force might come into play when there is a direct threat from a suspect wielding a firearm, knife or other weapon that endangers the lives of the officer and others.

Violation of constitutional rights

If you have suffered an injury due to police brutality or the use of excessive force, you may be able to file a civil rights complaint for monetary compensation or injunctive relief. If you wish for a full investigation of your case, you can file your complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. Regardless of the route you choose, the court will look at your case from the perspective of a reasonable officer, the specifics of the situation, and the amount of the force that would be acceptable in the circumstances.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of police brutality, it is important to remember that you still have rights and options. Take the appropriate steps to secure the justice that you deserve.

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