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Police misconduct: A blight on the justice system

Claiming police misconduct is a serious thing to do. When you claim misconduct, the law enforcement officer or officers have to be involved in investigations, and then the situation must be evaluated from both sides.

As the claimant, you need to have a reason to bring a misconduct claim against an officer. For example, you could state that the officer violated your Fourth Amendment rights by searching you with no just cause or performing a search without a warrant.

Similarly, you could argue that you had your Eighth Amendment rights violated when the officer went beyond arresting you and physically beat you during the arrest. The Eighth Amendment protects you against cruel and unusual punishment. Assaults may fall under this protection.

What do you need to show that you were a victim of misconduct?

Some of the things you'll want to bring to court as the prosecution include:

  • Videos
  • Audio of the events
  • The identities of witnesses
  • Your psychiatric history and records
  • A narrative of events
  • Job applications
  • Medical history records
  • School records
  • Complaints
  • Prior statements
  • Accident or incident reports

These are just a few of the things you should have on hand for the prosecution. Why do you need so much? It comes down to showing that you are a good person, that you have a balanced mental state and that you have the evidence needed to make your complaint valid.

Officers do get a chance to defend themselves. They may use investigative files, dispatch logs, audio tapes, physical evidence and even a filed police report to defend their actions. Some other things they may present to the court for consideration include:

  • Training documents
  • Performance reviews and evaluations
  • Psychiatric exams
  • Military history documents
  • Warrants and affidavits
  • Injury reports detailing the claimant's injuries
  • Medical records from any injuries due to the claimant's actions

With these documents, the defense aims to show that they were in the right when they used force against you, the victim. Fortunately, your defense attorney is well-prepared for these kinds of claims, so they can help you explain your situation in a way where it is hard for the officer to explain away poor behavior.

The reality of police brutality and misconduct is that people need to speak up to make sure it stops happening. Without holding the police accountable, this kind of behavior will only continue to become a problem in New York and within the United States.

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