Houston Civil Rights – Police Brutality Lawyer
NOTE: Our law firm does not handle Civil Rights – Police Brutality cases. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.
Have your civil rights been violated by law enforcement in Houston, TX? Have you suffered injuries due to police brutality? You have rights and you may be entitled to compensation.
How a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help with a Police Misconduct Claim
Law enforcement is supposed to protect citizens and keep their best interests in mind. When a police officer violates your civil rights, they should be held accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, police misconduct and abuse is notoriously difficult to prove, especially in Texas which makes it harder to gather evidence and seek justice for victims.
You may feel like the justice system is fighting against you when you accuse a police officer of abuse. Law enforcement will often stand with accused officers and even issue official statements misrepresenting the facts. You may be vilified in the media and feel like no one cares about the harm you have suffered.
This is why it’s crucial to seek the experience of a Houston personal injury lawyer to fight for your rights and serve as your advocate. A Houston police brutality lawyer will demand the evidence you need and fight for you against the government in pursuit of the fair financial recovery you deserve.
Your Civil Rights When Dealing with Law Enforcement
Interactions with law enforcement can be intimidating and frightening, even when you have done nothing wrong. It’s important to know what your rights are to recognize a situation in which your rights may have been violated.You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer a police officer’s questions.
It may be best to simply provide your name and state that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent. You also have the right to refuse a search. You don’t have to give consent to a search of you or your belongings. Police have the right to pat you down for weapons, however.
The Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant unless law enforcement has a reasonable belief that there are weapons or evidence of a crime in your vehicle and you may try to destroy the evidence or in an emergency.
There are many ways in which law enforcement may violate your rights. If you suspect your rights have been violated, it’s important to consult with a civil rights lawyer in Houston as soon as possible.
Types of Police Misconduct and Brutality in Houston, TX
Law enforcement can violate your civil rights in many ways.
- Wrongful or false arrest
- Unjustified police shooting
- Sexual abuse
- Unreasonable or illegal search
- Actions based on protected class
- Denial of due process
- Malicious prosecution
In Texas, a police officer may be guilty of misconduct, brutality, or excessive use of force if their actions were unreasonable for the situation.
Excessive Force and Police Brutality
Police only have the right to use force that is necessary to respond to a situation in their role as law enforcement. Excessive force can be considered police brutality. Excessive force can involve many types of force such as:
- Pepper spray
- Choke holds
- Rubber bullets
- Punches or kicks
- Tear gas
There is no specific definition of excessive force. Force is considered excessive when an officer uses more force than another reasonable officer would have believed was necessary in a similar situation. This will be a matter for a court and jury to decide.
Your Houston police brutality lawyer will gather evidence to make your case and demonstrate how and why the force that was used was excessive. This may involve expert testimony and video evidence.
Sometimes police misconduct involves wrongful arrest. An arrest must be supported by probable cause in Texas which is determined based on the details of the case. When there is clearly no probably cause, the court generally does not defer to the officer’s opinion and the arrest can be considered wrongful.
Unfortunately, sexual abuse by a police officer does happen. Many victims of sexual abuse are afraid to report their abuse because they have been threatened by officers or they believe no one will believe them over a police officer. This has made police sexual misconduct a hidden crime that often goes unreported.
According to a 2014 study, there were 398 officers arrested between 2005 and 2007 across 328 non-federal law enforcement agencies in 43 states and 265 countries. These cases may involve an officer who demands sexual acts in exchange for leniency, rape by an on-duty police officer, and sexual abuse in a jail, among other forms of police sexual abuse.
An unjustified police shooting is one of the most horrific examples of police misconduct. These cases often make national headlines with a traffic number of police shootings in recent years. While police officers have the right to use deadly force when necessary, they cannot use excessive force when it isn’t necessary.
When an officer is found to have used an unreasonable amount of force, they may be found liable for violating the victim’s Fourth Amendment rights. Police shooting lawsuits are notoriously complex as police will generally claim that the force they used was reasonable or necessary in the situation.
A law firm should do everything possible to help victims achieve justice and work closely with firearms experts, medical examiners, forensic investigators, and law enforcement specialists to prove what actually happened. They should also work to overcome the natural juror bias to favor police officers and the wide discretion law enforcement is given to choose when and how to use force.
Proving Houston Police Misconduct
When you are the victim of police brutality or civil rights violations in Texas, you have the right to sue the police department and/or officers responsible. However, suing a police department is notoriously complex. Police officers are not above the law but you may feel like the justice system is not on your side when you make allegations against law enforcement.
Texas does not make it easy to prove cases of police brutality and misconduct. Police agencies are not required to supply investigation records in cases that did not result in a conviction. This means if a victim dies as a result of police brutality, family members are unable to get police records. This law can serve as a shield to protect police officers from being held accountable for their actions.
Texas Supreme Court decisions have also made it harder for victims to hold police officers accountable for their actions by setting a precedent that requires specific facts, evidence, and information to win a case involving police brutality.
Note, most civil police brutality actions are subject to accelerated timetables. Typically, claims must be filed within 90 days of the date you suffer an injury.
Because proving police misconduct in Texas can be a complex and uphill battle, it’s crucial to work with an experienced Houston police misconduct attorney to build your case. Your lawyer will work to gather evidence in your case, even without police investigation records, such as officer body camera footage, third-party recordings, witness statements, and past allegations of abuse.
Damages Available in a Police Brutality Claim
If you are successful in a civil rights violation lawsuit in Houston, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the harm you have suffered. Between 2014 and 2019, Dallas alone spent almost $7.4 million to settle dozens of lawsuits against police officers and $2.4 million for attorney’s fees.
Depending on the details of your case, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical bills related to injuries you sustained
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages in rare cases that go before a jury
If you lost a loved one due to police brutality or an unjustified police shooting, you may be entitled to recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Your Houston civil rights violation lawyer will help you determine if you have a case and the damages you may be entitled to recover.
Contact a Houston Civil Rights – Police Brutality Lawyer
Even if you committed a crime, you should not be subjected to police misconduct or brutality. Unfortunately, this happens all too often to Houston residents. If you have been the victim of police misconduct, a Houston civil rights/police brutality lawyer can help you explore your legal options and hold the responsible parties accountable.