Common Types of Police Brutality Cases in New York City

Manhattan Police Brutality and Police Misconduct Lawyer

To fulfill their duty of “protecting and serving” the people of New York and ensuring their safety from criminal activities, police officers may, on occasion, find it necessary to employ force. While there are situations where the use of force is justified, it becomes an issue when it exceeds conduct and transforms into police brutality.

To effectively address the problem of police brutality, it is crucial to be aware of the forms of misconduct. If you have encountered any of the following circumstances, we strongly urge you to reach out to a trusted police brutality attorney in NYC who can provide guidance on your rights.

Excessive Use of Force

The terms “excessive force” and “police brutality” are often used interchangeably. There is a distinction between them, however. While police brutality encompasses a range of violations, excessive use of force stands out as one of the severe transgressions on that list.

Instances of force may involve forms of violence and misconduct such as overly tight handcuffing, the use of restrictive chokeholds, baton beatings, Tasers, pepper spray usage, restraining individuals in stressful positions, or disregarding proper arrest procedures.

Misuse of Tasers

Tasers can be a minimally invasive method of subduing suspects who fail to comply with police instructions. Despite their usefulness, they can lead to serious injury and even death. There have been several reported mishaps related to using Tasers, ranging from mistakenly shooting a gun thinking it was a Taser to tasing someone doused with gasoline and setting the victim on aflame.

In the past decade, 513 reported deaths are associated with police use of Tasers. A lack of training and overzealousness are suggested reasons for this high number of fatalities.

Shooting Death or Injury

While the majority of police officers have never had to use their firearms while on duty, it has been reported that 27% of officers have discharged a gun in the line of duty. The act of shooting is permissible in two situations:

  1. If a police officer has grounds to believe that a suspect presents a risk of causing severe physical harm, or
  2. If the suspect is in the process of fleeing or trying to escape from a situation where serious injury has taken place. 

Police officers have a duty to exercise discretion, which can be difficult in fast-paced and dangerous situations. Still, an unwarranted shooting is ripe for adjudication.

Unlawful Searches

The United States Constitution safeguards individuals from government infringement on their privacy, which incorporates instances where a police officer performs a search. If a search is carried out unlawfully without a warrant or reasonable grounds, an individual may potentially have recourse.

Sexual Assault

Unscrupulous officers may abuse their power by engaging in the following instances of police brutality:

  • Rape (defined as sexual assault without consent)
  • Unwanted sexual contact
  • Threats of force or coercion
  • Sodomizing victims with foreign objects (like a police baton)

Racial Profiling

Mountains of statistics highlight the uneven way in which minorities are targeted by police officers. For example, the Police Brutality Center reports that police kill black people at a rate of 5.8 per million per year, compared to 2.3 per million per year among the white population.

Further, Harvard has published reports that black Americans are arrested and convicted at disproportionately high rates. Proving unlawful profiling can be a first step in developing a police brutality case.

Civil Rights Violations

Title 42 Section 1983 of The United States Code grants individuals rights. If police officers violate these rights, citizens have the option to pursue action in court to seek enforcement.

Examples of civil rights violations include, but are not limited to:

  • False arrest
  • Wrongful conviction
  • False imprisonment
  • Enforced forfeiture of property
  • Denial of right to legal representation
  • Invasion of privacy (including surveillance abuse)
  • Forced entry

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is police brutality a problem in New York City?

Victims of police misconduct often ask us why police brutality is a problem in NYC and whether New York police officers are more prone to these acts than in other cities across the United States.

Though New York has one of the lowest rates of fatalities due to police violence at 0.14 deaths per 100,000 people, this statistic is misleading. The reason is that New York is the fourth most populated state, with more than 19 million residents. Therefore, when you look at the sheer volume of police brutality statistics, New York fares among the worst.

Aside from the numbers, which alone are disturbing, the lack of disciplinary consequences for officers who have engaged in misconduct encourages this pattern of bad behavior to continue. According to NYCLU (ACLU of New York), most citizen complaints aren’t substantiated. Further, substantiated complaints result in officer discipline in only 33% of the cases.  

The difficulty citizens face with substantiating complaints, combined with the lack of discipline, has created a climate that fosters these alarming incidences.

How many New York City police officers engage in brutality and other forms of misconduct?

According to the Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, it’s estimated that 1% of police officers engage in at least one incident of misconduct each year. Given that the NYPD has a force of 36,000 officers, approximately 360 officers engage in misconduct each year.

Is it true that police misconduct is underreported?

Whether it’s a death at the hands of a police officer or the unlawful use of a Taser, incidences of police brutality and misconduct are believed to be woefully underreported. For example, Time Magazine recently reported that 55% of deaths caused by police officers were not reported due to internal departmental politics, complications with paperwork, and other factors.

Contact an Experienced Police Brutality Attorney

As a trusted law firm with two locations in New York, Ross & Hill has a long and successful track record of helping police brutality victims. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

If you or a loved one has experienced excessive force by a law enforcement personnel, you are not alone. Ross & Hill Personal Injury Lawyers provide fierce and compassionate representation for New York City police brutality victims.

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