Home Police Brutality Excessive Use of Force

Representing Victims of Police Brutality

Excessive force is the use of force in excess of what a police officer reasonably believes is necessary under the circumstances. Police officers can be held liable for use of excessive force in an arrest, stop, or seizure. In South Carolina, police may face civil charges of misconduct for violating a person’s civil rights or using unapproved methods on a citizen. This may include using unapproved holds to physically restrain a person or using unnecessary physical or deadly force.

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Examples of Use of Excessive Force

Some police officers engage in misconduct, using excessive force against individuals who are not able to defend themselves. Famous examples include Rodney King, who was brutally beaten by Los Angeles police officers in 1991, and Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot at short range by Minneapolis police after a routine traffic stop in 2021. Forms of police brutality through use of excessive force include:

  • Assaulting a person in handcuffs or in police custody
  • Using a baton illegally to commit assault and battery on a person
  • Unlawful use of a Taser
  • Shooting a person with a service weapon when it could have been avoided
  • Watching another police officer use excessive force and failing to intervene
  • Failing to use verbal commands before resorting to physical force
  • Causing injury unnecessarily in the use of physical force

Levels of Force Used by the Police

To make an arrest or investigatory stop, law enforcement may need to use some degree of physical coercion. However, the level of force used by police officers must be proportional to the threat. Officers must begin an interaction using the least amount of force possible. They are only allowed to escalate the amount of force used when they are unable to subdue an individual using less.

Force used by law enforcement is classified in five distinct levels:

  • Physical presence: The physical presence of a police officer alone diffuses the situation.
  • Verbalization: The officer makes requests or gives direct orders to control the situation verbally.
  • Empty-hand control: A police officer uses physical force without the use of a weapon, such as grabbing, holding, punching, or kicking a person.
  • Less lethal weapons: Police may use tear gas, batons, Tasers, police dogs, or other methods that are not intended to be lethal.
  • Lethal force: The highest level of force by police is use of a lethal weapon such as a firearm.

What Can You Do If You Or a Loved One Has Been a Victim of Excessive Use of Force by Police?

Citizens in the U.S. have recourse when police violate their rights and cause them bodily injury. If you or your loved one has been a victim of police brutality, you have a right to bring a claim in civil court. This is an effective way to pursue compensation for the losses you have suffered and hold police officers accountable for their actions. Damages you may be entitled to claim may include past and future medical expenses, lost wages or earnings, loss of future earning potential, physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.

Why Choose Allen Law?

At Allen Law, we are committed to protecting the rights of citizens guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Our Charleston police brutality lawyers have the knowledge, skills, and resources to hold responsible parties accountable in a civil rights lawsuit. Founding attorney Julian Allen has been awarded membership in the Multimillion Dollar Advocates Forum and named among Super Lawyers® Rising StarsSM.

Call us at (843) 882-5005 to schedule a free consultation. We offer legal counsel on a contingency fee basis, with no legal fees until we recover compensation for you.