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Excessive force complaints must be taken seriously

One protection that everyone has in this country is the right to not have to endure cruel and unusual punishment. This is provided by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. While there is some question about exactly what constitutes this forbidden punishment, there are some rulings and cases that shed some light on what shouldn't happen.

Police officers are held to a high standard when they are on duty. There are limits to what types of force officers can use when dealing with people. For example, a cop can't take his gun off his belt and hit you across the face just because you don't want to give a confession. Other situations are also covered.

The Supreme Court has ruled on cases that note that deadly force can only be used if the officer has probable cause that shows the suspect is a threat to others. This threat must be of serious injuries or death. The force must also be necessary to prevent the person from escaping.

Officers should use a graduated series of actions that are only moved through if the suspect won't surrender to an arrest. The first two are the officer's physical presence and using verbal commands. These are both nonforceful measures. The next three are all forceful options. These include empty-handed control, less lethal methods and lethal force.

The forceful options aren't appropriate in all cases. When the need for force abates because the situation is controlled, the force must be stopped. This means that an officer can't use force to punish a person who is cooperating, even if the person isn't providing a confession.

Great harm can come from excessive force. Not only from physical injuries but also from mental trauma. Civil lawsuits often come after these incidents.

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