A lawsuit alleging that a Cook County sheriff’s deputy used excessive force against a suspect illustrates again how civil lawsuits are often the only legal recourse that many people have following incidents of police brutality.
Punched and Kicked for Doing Nothing Wrong
The federal lawsuit was filed by a 50-year-old Chicago man arrested in 2013 on cocaine charges that were later dropped, and is backed up by surveillance video from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. While the video tape doesn’t contain any sound, the man admits that while in custody he responded to a question from the deputy with an expletive.
That might have been disrespectful, the resulting actions by the deputy were truly outrageous. The deputy kicked the man to the ground, and then continued to punch and kick him while he lay in the fetal position. Eventually, the deputy handcuffed the man and dragged him out of his cell.
Video Evidence but Little Action From Authorities
Shockingly, the deputy in the video has not faced any punishment for his actions. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to press charges, stating that it would be too difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the deputy used excessive force.
A complaint was filed with the sheriff’s office, but that also hasn’t resulted in any punishment for the deputy’s actions sticking. While the deputy was initially fired, his termination was reversed by an internal Merit Board that reviews allegations of misconduct by sheriff’s deputies. The Merit Board found that the suspect was resisting arrest. A Cook County judge also sided with the Merit Board, but the Sheriff’s Office has now taken that decision to the Illinois Court of Appeals. The deputy continues to collect a salary.
Pursuing Excessive Force Lawsuits
As this latest case from Cook County shows, often a civil lawsuit is the only remedy for suspects who have been victimized by police misconduct. This typically involves filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging that your civil rights have been violated, and demanding monetary compensation from the police department or sheriff’s office.
However, there may be difficulties in proving that how a police officer acted indeed constituted excessive force. Excessive force claims are judged on a case-by-case basis against how a hypothetical reasonable police officer in the same situation would have acted. This can make it difficult to establish excessive force in cases where a suspect has acted violently, but in clearer cases where a suspect has done nothing to provoke officers and suffered serious injuries, large monetary awards have been paid out by law enforcement agencies in settlements or jury verdicts.
Contact a Chicago Police Abuse Attorney
Police officers have tough jobs, and sometimes they do have to use force to apprehend suspects. However, police are never authorized to beat and abuse suspects. When police use excessive force, it can result in lifelong injuries, and departments are usually unable or unwilling to do anything to punish bad cops. If you’ve been victimized by police brutality and are considering a lawsuit against law enforcement officers in Cook County, contact Barney & Hourihane today to discuss your case.