Bakersfield, CA – Police brutality continues to be a problem in California, despite the numerous protests and civic initiatives sparked by the tragic death of George Flyoyd. The numbers for the past decade speak for themselves. According to a recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), each year approximately 195 people are killed in an encounter with the local police. What is truly scary is the fact that one in five people were unarmed when they were shot and killed. At the same time, four in ten of those who suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds from an encounter with law enforcement agents were later diagnosed with a mental condition or a substance-related disorder.
How is police brutality defined in California?
Law enforcement agents have a difficult job and in many cases they have reasons to fear for their lives and use force in the course of an action. However, according to the law, the force they use must be proportionate with the danger they are faced with. A police officer making an arrest is allowed to use a moderate amount of force to subdue a suspect. If the suspect is unarmed and is not resisting, the police have no reason to use force, let alone lethal weapons.
The police can only use a gun only if a suspect is armed and threatening their lives or the safety of civilians at the scene.
The PPIC report shows that 80% of those killed during a police action were indeed armed, but some of them only carried a knife or another type of stabbing instrument so it is hard to say if they posed a threat or not. As for the other 20%, those shot and killed even if they were unarmed, that may qualify as a case of police brutality.
How can you fight back against police brutality in Bakersfield?
You can only do that if you hire a California lawyer specializing in police misconduct and file a claim. If you or a family member were injured during the course of a police action, you have the right to file a complaint with the police department the agents work for. Such complaints need to be investigated and, if they are found guilty, the responsible officers need to be disciplined. A police agent can be suspended, reprimanded, reassigned or even fired if he or she breaks the law. That is not always the case as in many police departments all around California excessive use of force is not only tolerated, but also encouraged.
What is a Section 1983 lawsuit against the police?
If your complaint is dismissed, a lawyer specializing in police brutality in Bakersfield can help you file a so-called Section 1983 lawsuit for civil rights violations. This type of lawsuit is based on the Civil Rights Act of 1871, a federal statute which allows citizens to sue the government in case of a civil rights violation. Section 1983 of the act refers to situations in which a law enforcement agent acting “under color of” state or local law deprives a person of their constitutional rights.
When you file a lawsuit you can claim damages for the medical bills related to the injuries caused by the violence used by police officers. You can also seek compensation if your injuries forced you to miss work and you lost wages for several weeks or months. If the actions of the police officers are found to be of an egregious nature you may also be awarded punitive damages.
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