Have You Been the Victim of Security or Police Misconduct?
Given the nature of the interaction most people have with security officers or the police, it may be difficult to determine whether there has been misconduct by the private or public law enforcement officer. After all, it was the civilian who reportedly broke the law or attempted to break it. Generally, the key test has to do with whether the officer acted reasonably under all of the circumstances. If they didn't and an injury or denial of rights occurs, then the victim may have the right to be compensated.
It occurs to some observers that those who break the law or attempt to break the law (even where a relatively minor offense is at issue) should not be entitled to complain when their rights are violated or they are the victim of excessive force. This is simply wrong, and no one should be mistreated by security or the police because they may have broken the law. If a "suspect" is victimized and essentially punished for being suspected of committing a crime, it is then the officer who has violated the law.
Security and Police Misconduct Law in California
In the last few years, shocking examples of police and security misconduct have come to light in the mainstream media. Police officers shooting unarmed suspects, security guards using a taser on a child, and officers using way too much force to subdue a "noncompliant" suspect are just a few examples. When these things occur and the officers have broken the law, the injured party is entitled to recover compensation for their injuries and damages.
In California, like most States, a police or security officer can only use that force reasonably necessary to effect an arrest or prevent the escape of a suspect. Once a subject is under control or compliant, the law does not permit an officer to use additional force or violence against that subject. In addition, when an officer (police or security) arrests someone that detention must have been valid under the law or every bit of force used to detain or apprehend the subject is unlawful. If there is no legal justification for the arrest, then all of the force used amounts to a battery on the subject. The detention itself, however brief, would be an unlawful or "false" imprisonment. These are among the common law violations committed by an officer and for which compensation to the injured party could be awarded.
In addition to common law claims such as assault, battery and false imprisonment, certain statutes give injured parties additional rights. For example, under federal law a subject who is deprived of their Constitutional rights under color of State law (by a law enforcement officer) is entitled to a number of legal remedies. Likewise, under California law where an individual's rights to be free from bodily restraint or harm or from personal insult have been violated an officer (including a security officer) may be held liable for damages.
What to Do if You Think You Have Been a Victim
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you think you are being victimized by an officer is that you may make matters even worse by resisting or fending off what you believe is an unlawful arrest or excessive use of force. Keep in mind that an officer may believe THEY are the one in the right and that THEY need to overcome any amount of force or resistance they are met with. Once an officer is met with resistance, they may believe they are then entitled to use an even greater level of force to overcome that opposition, thereby elevating the force being used. Obviously, it is one thing to protect yourself from injury and another to use force against an officer. Don't give them an excuse to inflict more pain or injury.
After an incident is over, it is then time to gather evidence. Get witnesses' names, take pictures of visible injuries and photograph the scene of the incident. If a police report or incident report is prepared, it is a good idea to get a copy of the document as well. The time you have to bring a claim against a police agency can be very short so it is important to gather this evidence as quickly as possible.
Experienced in Security and Police Misconduct
While attending college and law school, Mr. Ralph worked in the private security field. For more than 7 years he was employed by a retailer as a "loss prevention agent" and eventually a "loss prevention field supervisor." Over that period of time, Mr. Ralph had occasion to make more than 500 apprehensions of suspected shoplifters and dishonest employees. Those arrests even resulted in testimony in criminal courts on more than 20 occasions. This is a level of experience that few attorneys possess.
In addition, while working in the security field Mr. Ralph had occasion to go on a number of police "ride-alongs" to see firsthand what law enforcement work was all about. This was a nice compliment to his AA degree in Administration of Justice and the BA degree in Criminal Justice received just prior to law school.
As an attorney, Mr. Ralph has had occasion to successfully represent a number of injured clients in police and security misconduct cases, ranging from shooting cases to false arrest. His particular favorite are those cases involving store or other private security officers.
If you believe you have been the victim of security or police misconduct, you should take the first step to receiving compensation by contacting the Law Offices of Paul W. Ralph for a free consultation.