How Is Excessive Force Proven in Court?

February 13 , 2023 | Civil Rights Attorney

Sometimes the police do not do their jobs appropriately and violate people’s civil rights. For example, a former police officer was found guilty by the Department of Justice recently for using excessive force.

Were you injured when you were detained or arrested in Milwaukee? You may be able to file an excessive force civil rights lawsuit. However, the burden of proof in these complex cases is more than beyond a reasonable doubt.

To win the case, you will need to work with an experienced Milwaukee civil rights attorney at Martin Law Office, S.C. for assistance. Because of the doctrine of qualified immunity, it can be challenging to obtain compensation from a jury in an excessive force claim. However, Wisconsin law does allow for law enforcement officers and departments to be held liable if they did violate your constitutional rights.

There are several ways that an excessive force case is proven in court. If these steps are followed, your case could lead to compensation:

Hire A Civil Rights Attorney

The most important way to prove your excessive force case in court is to hire an attorney. If you were arrested for committing a crime, you probably already have a defense attorney. However, you should consider getting another attorney for your civil rights claim. Most defense attorneys do not have experience in this specialized area of law.

In a civil case that involves law enforcement misconduct, you are at a disadvantage in court if you do not have an attorney. The jury may tend to trust what the police say. However, you can prove your excessive force case in court if you have a good attorney helping you.

Show Your Behavior Before The Arrest

An important part of proving excessive force in court is whether the force used by police was warranted in the situation. So, your behavior before the arrest will be a major part of the case. The police usually need to use more force if you are resisting arrest or not cooperating. Also, the threshold for excessive use of force is lower when you fully complied with the officer’s instructions.

The nature of the arrest also is important in court. If you had just robbed someone or were thought to have committed that crime, the jury is more likely to believe what the officer says. However, if you can show the police should have known they had the wrong person or used excessive force when you committed a non-violent crime, you can prove your claim.

Collect A Lot Of Evidence

Your testimony and the police report will be the basis of your excessive force case. But you will need to collect as much convincing evidence as possible. For example, you should gather your medical records if you got medical help after the incident. You can bolster your claim by showing hospital bills, prescriptions, and injury descriptions to show that excessive force was used.

The Use Of Expert Testimony

Your excessive force civil rights attorney will probably rely on expert testimony to prove your case in court. This testimony could include that of other police officers who may say that excessive force was used against you. However, sometimes it can be challenging to get the police to give testimony against other officers. Your attorney may have your doctor or psychologist testify and discuss your injuries. Having a doctor testify about the case always gives more weight to the case.

Collect Video Evidence

One of the essential pieces of evidence is the video of how you interacted with the police during the incident. However, this evidence can be challenging to obtain. If you did not video the incident, you could look for other sources.

Look at the surroundings where the alleged excessive force incident occurred. For example, there could be security video evidence if it happened near a retail store. If bystanders were around, someone else might have recorded what happened.

Obtain Bodycam Video

If law enforcement in the area uses bodycams, you can ask for the footage from the department to bolster the case. Likewise, if the police should have bodycam footage but do not, this may help your case.

You or your attorney should ask for this evidence as soon as possible. Some police departments delete bodycam footage after a certain amount of time. So, you could lose vital evidence if you do not move fast.

Use The Criminal Case

Most civil rights cases are started after the criminal case is resolved. How the criminal case was resolved can be a vital factor in an excessive force lawsuit. Juries are less likely to support your case if you are a convicted criminal. However, if the police who hurt you had the wrong person or did not get charged, you could have a strong case. Also, if you were accused of the crime but were dropped or found innocent, this may help the civil rights case.

The Police Officer’s Reputation

Another factor to prove your case is the officer’s and department’s reputation. If there are many complaints against law enforcement about excessive force, this can be used to show they are negligent. On the other hand, if the earlier complaints were not dealt with, your attorney may argue that the police department has a regular problem.

Present A Strong Case

You should have a strong case when you have all of the above evidence collected for an excessive force case. However, now your attorney must use all the evidence to make the case in court. You may need to take some hard questions from the other side during the case, but staying calm and composure is essential.

Cases, where excessive force may have been used are complicated and need a lot of expert support to succeed. But your excessive force civil rights attorney is there to help you.

Talk To A Milwaukee Civil Rights Attorney Today

Do you think you are a victim of excessive force in Milwaukee? You could have a case whether the alleged violation happened near the Milwaukee Public Market, Mitchell Park Domes, or another sight. Our Milwaukee civil rights attorneys have years of experience handling many civil rights cases, and we will fight for your rights. Please contact  Martin Law Office, S.C., now for assistance with your case.