What are My Rights to Sue the Police in New York?

In cases where a police officer has violated your rights, such as through false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution, or racial profiling, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit and seek monetary damages. Understanding the laws and legal procedures associated with suing the police is critical so that you can take the necessary steps to seek justice with the assistance of a police misconduct attorney.

Knowing your rights and taking the necessary steps can assist you in exercising your right to sue the police for misconduct.


The NYPD and Police Misconduct

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the country’s largest but has a long history of misconduct, brutality, corruption, and racism. False arrests, illegal search and seizure (including strip searches), excessive force, and falsifying paperwork are all used to cover up their crimes.

As a result, the NYPD has been sued over 12,000 times for civil rights violations alone from 2014 to 2019! The NYPD has also been involved in a number of high-profile cases involving police shootings that resulted in wrongful deaths or injuries, such as:

  • Sean Bell, who was killed by police in November 2006
  • Amadou Diallo, who was killed by officers when they fired 41 bullets at him from close range on February 1999
  • Eric Garner, who died after being put into an illegal chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo while being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in July 2014
  • 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was unarmed when he was shot to death by plainclothes NYPD officers in February 2012
  • In 2010, Briana Ojeda, an 11-year-old girl from the Bronx, died from an asthma attack after a New York City police officer refused to perform CPR, despite her mother’s pleas

Different Kinds of Police Misconduct Claims in New York

New York is the largest city in the United States and one of the world’s most diverse cities. New York, with a population of 8.6 million people, is home to a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities. As a result, knowing your rights as an individual when interacting with law enforcement officers is critical.

Some states have laws that provide citizens with more protection than others when dealing with police officers (for example, California has its own version of Miranda rights), but there are several main types of police misconduct claims:

Malicious Prosecution

A “malicious prosecution” claim arises when an officer unlawfully arrests someone and/or maliciously prosecutes that person for a crime. To prove malicious prosecution, you must demonstrate that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest you and brought charges against you with malice or an improper motive. If your claim is successful, you will usually be awarded monetary damages to compensate you for your losses.

Excessive Force

Excessive force is defined as any use of physical force by an officer that is unnecessary or unreasonable under the circumstances.

To establish an excessive force claim, you must demonstrate that an officer used more force than was necessary under the circumstances at the time. If your claim is successful, you will usually be awarded monetary damages to compensate you for your losses.

False Arrest/False Imprisonment

False arrest and false imprisonment are two separate claims.

A false arrest occurs when a police officer arrests or detains a person without probable cause or legal justification. This can happen even if the person is later released without charges. False arrest claims in New York fall under the law of civil rights violations (malicious prosecution) and require proof of malice on the part of the defendant.

To prove a malicious prosecution claim, you must show that:

  • The defendant had no reasonable grounds to believe you committed a crime
  • The defendant arrested or prosecuted you despite that lack of reasonable grounds
  • This arrest or prosecution caused you damage (such as loss of reputation, employment, or ability to earn money).

Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of privacy through surveillance or wiretapping without a warrant. Police officers might eavesdrop on phone calls without authorization from a judge, for example, or install hidden cameras in private locations without the proper legal authority to do so (such as inside someone’s home).


Discrimination based on race, gender identity, and other factors are protected by law — for example, failing to properly investigate reported crimes because of racial bias toward victims who are members of certain minority groups.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault involves contact between an officer and another person who doesn’t consent to sexual contact with the officer. This could include rubbing against someone in public or making lewd comments and unwanted gestures.

Police Brutality

Police brutality cases, otherwise referred to as civil rights violation cases, are a type of lawsuit that can be brought against the police department for using excessive force to the point of causing harm.

Contact Ross & Hill for the Best Personal Injury Legal Counsel in New York City

When interacting with New York City police officers, you have civil and constitutional rights as a citizen. If those rights are violated, you have the right to sue the officers.

A police misconduct case is one way for citizens to seek compensation if they believe their local law enforcement agency has wronged them. A police misconduct lawsuit seeks compensation for physical injuries or emotional distress caused by an LLEA member’s actions.

However, this is no easy task, and you will require the assistance of the experienced legal team at Ross & Hill. We are experienced and knowledgeable lawyers who are well-versed in the laws governing police misconduct and personal injury. We can help you fight for justice and protect your rights by providing legal advice and representation.

Rest assured that your case will be handled with the utmost care and consideration. Call Ross & Hill today at 718-855-2324 for a free consultation.


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