Excessive Force

Experienced Michigan Civil Rights Attorneys Representing Traverse City and Grand Rapids Residents Targeted by Police Brutality

Police brutality and other cases involving excessive force in Michigan may involve the use of burning sprays, unnecessary shootings, the use of tasers, and other incidents. Generally, anyone acting under color of law—such as law enforcement officers—is not permitted to use force that is disproportionate to the situation. If police officers use excessive force, it is considered a violation of your constitutional rights. In such cases, the department may be liable through a civil rights lawsuit.

If you were subject to excessive force, the Grand Rapids and Traverse City civil rights lawyers at Neumann Law Group may be able to represent you in a lawsuit for damages.

Filing an Excessive Force Lawsuit

Most excessive force claims are based on Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. This is a law that makes it illegal for anyone acting under color of law to take away the rights of someone else under federal law or the Constitution. People who act under color of law for the purposes of this law’s application include police, government agents, university employees, teachers, and other officials.

To prove liability in a Michigan excessive force lawsuit, you must identify the constitutional or federal right that you believe was violated, and you will then use the violation as the basis for your lawsuit. Often, the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits illegal searches and seizures, is a basis for a Section 1983 claim.

When is Excessive Force Most Common?

Police brutality often arises in the context of criminal cases, such as those where law enforcement abuses their power while conducting a stop, arrest, or investigation. Figuring out what excessive force is in a particular context depends partly on your status as the victim. You may be a citizen, a pretrial detainee, or a convicted criminal. As a citizen, you have rights of liberty, bodily integrity, and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. If you are a pretrial detainee, you are entitled to the 14th Amendment’s grant of substantive due process. If you are an incarcerated convict, you have the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

Under the 11th Amendment, the states have absolute immunity from being sued in federal court. If you need to sue the state of Michigan (as opposed to a city or another local government), a Section 1983 lawsuit is not appropriate, and you will need to file in state court. Our Grand Rapids and Traverse City attorneys can guide you through this process as well.

The court will look at whether you posed an immediate risk to the safety of police or other officials, whether you were actively resisting or evading arrest, how severe the crime was, and to which extent an officer knew or should have known that a suspect’s rights were being violated.

Fatal Constitutional Rights Violations

Under 42 U.S.C. Section 1988, you may bring a wrongful death action if a loved one died as a result of excessive force. This may, for example, allow a spouse to recover compensation for funeral expenses, medical bills, and loss of consortium after the death of the other spouse at the hands of the police or others. These lawsuits may be brought in conjunction with a Section 1983 claim.

Have State or Federal Law Enforcement Officers Violated Your Rights?

It may be challenging to bring an excessive force claim, even where law enforcement abused their powers. Moreover, judges and juries often believe that police officers are more credible than people suspected, accused or convicted of criminal wrongdoing. An experienced Traverse City or Grand Rapids attorney may make a difference to your case. If you were harmed due to the use of excessive force, the Neumann Law Group can help. We also represent victims in Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Wyoming, Saginaw, Muskegon, Midland, Holland, Warren, and Petoskey, as well as communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact Neumann Law Group at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form to set up a free appointment with a police brutality lawyer or seek assistance with another civil rights claim.

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