Suing The NYPD for Excessive Force

What is Excessive Force?

So what exactly qualifies as excessive force? In the eyes of the law, excessive force is when the police use an amount of force beyond what is necessary in order to make an arrest. For example, when you’re arrested the police are allowed to handcuff you, but it can be excessive force when they  handcuff you so tightly that it causes pain or injury. Also, police are allowed to chase you if you run, but it would be excessive force if they punch, or kick you if you’ve already surrendered and became compliant.

It’s important to know, you can sue for excessive force even if you’re not suing for false arrest. That means even if the police had the right to arrest you, they still are held to the same standard of not using any amount of force beyond what’s necessary to make that arrest

What Makes A Strong Excessive Force Case?

We now know an officer's force becomes excessive when it goes beyond what’s necessary. That begs the question, what amount of force is considered necessary? And do you have an excessive force case that will hold up in court?

If you file a lawsuit against the NYPD, it will be judged by what we call “the reasonable police officer standard.” That means the defendant officer’s conduct will be judged against “what a reasonably prudent officer would use under the same or similar circumstances.” If the defendant officer used more force than what a reasonable officer would have used, then that means they used more force than necessary and that means they used excessive force.

And if your case goes to court, that means the jury will put themselves in the shoes of the police officer when deciding if their behavior was too much. Some of the things the jury members will consider include:

  • How serious the crime is that you were alleged to have committed
  • Whether or not you posed a threat to the officer
  • The extent of your injuries
  • And whether or not you were resisting arrest

So if the police broke your arm while arresting you this may or may not be excessive force depending on the circumstances. For example, if you were suspected of committing armed robbery and your arm was broken during a pursuit and tackle, that might not be considered excessive force.

On the other hand, if you were pulled over during a routine traffic stop and your wrist was broken because the police violently yanked you out of the car and threw you to the ground, that WOULD be considered excessive force.

How Much Can I Get Paid?

How much money can you potentially get paid from an excessive force lawsuit?  The recovery for an Excessive Force case can reach into the millions, depending on the details of the case.
Some of the factors that determine how much you get paid include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • How long did your injuries last?
  • Your amount of past pain and suffering
  • Your anticipated future pain and suffering
  • Any lost wages resulting from the incident
  • And how malicious the police officers were during the incident.

One of the important things to remember is to try get the City of New York as a named defendant in an excessive force case. The City can try to wiggle out of the case if its they are not named as a defendant in your lawsuit. So including the City—and its deep pockets—will help ensure you actually get paid if you win your case.

*The information above is general information meant for educational purposes, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person who views it.   If you think you need personalized legal assistance, always speak with a qualified attorney. Remember: Results vary. Prior Results do not guarantee future outcomes.

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