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Police misbehavior includes unlawful arrest and excessive force

In many situations, people are glad to see police. When you call for help because of a motor vehicle collision or an intruder in your home, those flashing lights can provide a sense of security or relief. For other people, however, the presence of law enforcement can mean imminent danger.

Police officers, after all, are only human, just like the people they swear to protect and serve. Mistakes happen, as do emotional overreactions. Unfortunately, when police officers make mistakes, innocent citizens often end up paying the price. Those who have experienced the use of excessive force during a law enforcement encounter or those who were wrongfully arrested may need to take legal action to stand up for their rights and prevent future abuses.

Wrongful arrests can be mistakes or personally motivated

A wrongful or unlawful arrest occurs any time a person gets taken in police custody without a valid reason for the arrest. One of the more common reasons is subtle racism. If a call comes out warning officers to be on the watch for a black man of a certain height, for example, someone who had nothing to do with the situation could find him- or herself in jail simply for sharing the skin color with a nearby criminal.

Other times, police may go so far as to concoct reasons to arrest someone whom they've had a negative encounter with. Simple verbal belligerence could get written up to sound like resisting arrest or making threats, for example. Sometimes a person suffering a wrongful arrest did nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Excessive force can leave people with permanent injuries

When arresting a person who is not complying with verbal orders or who poses a threat to others, law enforcement may use only as much force as necessary to protect others and restrain the person in question. Sadly, sometimes the amount of force uses far exceeds what was reasonable for a situation.

Hitting or kicking a person on the ground, shoving someone in handcuffs who cannot catch oneself while falling or striking someone who was not resisting are all examples of excessive force.

Any use of force in a wrongful arrest is theoretically grounds for a citizen to act in self-defense, but doing so could result in increased use of force or criminal charges. In some cases, permanent physical injuries can result. In others, emotional scars, including post traumatic stress, could result from violent police encounters.

Police misbehavior can be difficult to prove

Most people have heard the term "the thin blue line." This basically serves as a statement that the police are the only thing preventing our society from crumbling into criminal chaos. Unfortunately, the dark side of that thin blue line is that law enforcement officers may prioritize solidarity with others in the field over what is right in some situations.

All too often, an otherwise law-abiding officer who witnesses misbehavior by another officer will turn a blind eye or even intentionally lie about what happened. For those who have suffered mistreatment by law enforcement, including wrongful arrest or the use of excessive force, it can be difficult to get other officers to substantiate what happened. Outside witnesses, medical records of injuries, or even cellphone or security camera video, may be necessary to prove what really happened.

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