To protect and to serve – this is a motto that many law enforcement agencies in the United States carry. The New Jersey police force must respect the rights of individuals when enforcing the law. When they violate this commitment, they are held accountable for their misconduct. So just what is considered police brutality in New Jersey?
Defining Police Brutality
While police officers are allowed to use reasonable force to protect themselves and others, excessive force is considered police brutality. There is no exact definition of excessive force. Police brutality cases are judged based on specific circumstances – what the officer knew at the time, the environment the officer was in, and the obstacles the officer was facing.
What is Considered Police Brutality in New Jersey?
When apprehending a criminal suspect, the police are allowed to use handcuffs, pursue by foot or vehicle, or even discharge a non-lethal electroshock weapon. What the New Jersey police are NOT allowed to do are the following:
- Abuse of power
- Handcuffs placed so tight that the suspect gets injured, and consequently requires surgery to repair the damage
- Assault on the suspect while conducting the arrest (choking, kicking or beating)
- Sexual assault
- Assault by multiple officers at the police station
- Discharging pepper spray on a suspect who is already in handcuffs
- Discharging an electroshock weapon or stun gun when the suspect has already surrendered, is not fleeing, or is already in custody
- Dispatching K-9 police dogs and allowing them to attack suspects
- Failure to seek medical treatment for suspects who are injured
- Denying suspects of medical care while in custody
With video recording now a standard feature in most mobile phones, it is easier to document police brutality and share actual footage of excessive force across social media. In fact, several videos have sparked nationwide outrage over police officers employing extreme – sometimes lethal – force on unarmed suspects.
Under New Jersey law, citizens are entitled to protections against police brutality. Victims could sue for damages so they can recover financially for their injuries
Your Rights Under the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment provides you with a shield against unreasonable searches in seizures by an agent of the government. Courts have awarded compensation to victims of police brutality after their Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
How to File a Civil Rights Violation Lawsuit in New Jersey
Under federal law, victims can sue the individual officer or officers involved in the attack as well as the police supervisor, the entire police precinct, and even the municipality, city or state where the precinct is located.
In New Jersey, the Tort Claim Act found at Title 59 of the New Jersey Statutes prevents individuals from bringing claims against the government. Section 59:2-2, however, creates specific exceptions to this rule so people who are injured can sue public entities [in this case, a police officer] who are negligent of their duty.
Excessive force lawsuits in New Jersey can result in monetary compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, and future earnings. If the victim is killed as a result of police brutality, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim.
Why You Should Call a Civil Rights or Personal Injury Attorney Right Away
Under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, you only have 90 days to report a personal injury claim. If you are a victim of police brutality or misconduct, report it immediately and call a personal injury attorney. The Law Offices of James DeZao have a team of qualified lawyers who have successfully handled numerous police brutality cases. Give us a call today at (973) 358-6134 for a free, no-obligation consultation.