Many of us would probably agree that most cops are here to serve and protect us, and most cops have good intentions. However, as with any organization that is made up of thousands of different humans of varying degrees of character, not everyone behind the badge has good intentions. Some cops are terrible humans who do atrocious things. In other cases, otherwise good police officers make mistakes and utilize excessive force or deliberate indifference which results in harming you.
Whether or not the police officer who abused his authority and harmed you is a generally good or bad human doesn’t change the hurt they caused. Being a victim of police misconduct can have a terrible impact on you. It may make you feel vulnerable, angry, hurt, and unsafe, in addition to the damage you incurred through the situation itself. When you’ve been a victim of police misconduct, knowing what to do to protect your own rights is critical. Please take a look at a few important steps that will help your police misconduct attorney or civil rights lawyer fight for your cause:
- Rely on your rights.
When you are arrested, the police officer will tell you you have the right to remain silent (and if the police officer does not state that during your arrest, it is an incredibly important factor to tell your police misconduct attorney). Remember this very vital right that you hold throughout your interaction with the offending police officer.
It is far more likely that saying too much will hurt your case and than not saying enough. If you get a indignant with the cop, it will not improve the outcome of your case. If the cop feels threatened, they may go into “cover up mode”, and hide or fabricate evidence to support their misconduct and or build their own defense. It is in your best benefit to only provide answers to questions you absolutely have to, such as your identification. Remain respectful and polite, but do not be bullied or intimidated into saying anything more than you need to.
- Diligently document every aspect of the situation.
If your case goes to court, the documentation you provide your police misconduct attorney will be the hinge pin that makes you successful. Otherwise, it is just your word against the police officer’s, and their badge gives them credibility they might not deserve.
At the scene of the incident, record absolutely every detail that you can. Take pictures of the weather conditions, the scene, and any detail that might or might not feel important. Some police misconduct clients have built successful cases only on a photo of on tire tracks on the road that contradicted the police officer’s testimony. Collect witness information, if any are available. Write down an organized timeline with absolutely every detail that you can recall of the incident to provide to your police misconduct attorney. There’s no amount of documentation that your lawyer will consider too much.
- Take care of yourself.
Before even considering a police misconduct lawsuit, take any measures necessary to take care of yourself. If you are injured, see a medical provider as soon as you can. If you have criminal charges filed against you, talk to a criminal defense lawyer to begin sorting out the legal implications of the charges. If you were denied medical care in custody, go to a hospital as soon as you are released.
Not only is it important for your well-being that you take care of yourself before addressing the police misconduct situation, by doing your due diligence, you are establishing your own competence and ensuring the opposing counsel cannot claim that the damage was worsened because of your own negligence. This also supports the documentation that builds your case.
- Hire the right kind of lawyer.
Let’s be honest. Cops have an extensive network protecting them from misconduct claims. Your attorney may have an uphill battle building your case. For this reason, it is critical to work with a police misconduct lawyer who has dedicated their career to your type of situation.
Filing a police misconduct lawsuit might be tough but important to achieve justice for yourself and protect other people from police abuse. Following these steps will help you in that pursuit.