The police have a tough job. Often suspects get violent, or officers are put in dangerous situations where the lives of innocent people are at risk. In those situations, police are legally justified to act with a certain level of force to protect the public from harm. However, there are certain legal restrictions on how much force police can use when dealing with any type of situation, and unfortunately sometimes officers exceed that appropriate amount of force for a given situation. Defining excessive force exactly is a difficult proposition, but there are some guidelines for understanding when excessive force is being used by police in Chicago and the rest of the state of Illinois.
Not All Force is Excessive
Generally, the appropriate use of force by a police officer is measured against the amount of force a reasonable police officer would use in a similar circumstance. This is an extremely difficult way to determine what is excessive. Few people would argue that an officer’s use of force is excessive to take down and pin a suspect who attempts to strike the officer during a lawful arrest. However, use of a firearm would certainly be excessive in this situation. If the police officer used a Taser to detain such a suspect, and that resulted in serious injuries, whether the use of force was excessive would be something of a gray area that would likely be determined by a court.
However, Some Types of Force are Always Excessive
Excessive force by police officers has justifiably received a large amount of media attention in recent months, particularly the use of chokeholds to detain suspects. Chokeholds are extremely dangerous maneuvers to use on anyone in any circumstances as these maneuvers reduce oxygen and blood flow to the brain. As documented in many media reports, a chokehold by police can result in serious permanent injury, or even death. As a result, in 2015 the governor of Illinois signed into law a bill that bans the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officials in Illinois.
Chokeholds of course are just one type of excessive force. Any use of force out of proportion with the circumstances of an arrest is excessive. For example, police officers should never fire their weapons at a suspect unless there is a legitimate threat of serious bodily injury or death to another human being. To determine whether you have a valid complaint that police used excessive force, you should consult with an attorney about the circumstances of your encounter with police.
Need Legal Help?
The effects of excessive force can be devastating from both a physical and mental perspective. There are of course high medical bills to deal with for injuries that never should have been inflicted, but there is also the emotional toll from having the trust of law enforcement violated by police misconduct. Both types of injuries are entitled to compensation under the law For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.
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