Battery Charges Against Police? Defending The Defenders
After fleeing police, a man was trapped in an elevator by a gun-wielding police officer. The man exited the elevator, laid on the ground, put his hands behind his back, and was cuffed. Within seconds another dozen or so officers surrounded the cuffed man. What happened from there allegedly included some aggressive actions against the grounded man. What we do know is that five officers from Miami Beach have been charged with battery due to the use of excessive force. While it’s true that excessive force is unacceptable for any sworn officer charged with defending the community, it’s also true that any officer accused of using excessive force deserves a strong defense, just like any American facing charges.
What Constitutes “Excessive Force?”
The concept of excessive force is somewhat vague because it refers to the amount of force beyond that which an officer reasonably believes is appropriate or necessary in the moment. While officers are undeniably allowed to use force on the job, it must be determined by a jury whether the force used in a particular incident exceeded that which would be considered appropriate by a reasonable individual. It might include using a weapon against an unarmed suspect, or using significant force against someone who is already in custody and who is not resisting. Even psychological or verbal abuse could constitute excessive force. It could be in relation to the stop, arrest, or seizure, meaning any officer could be liable to criminal charges during any interaction with a suspect. Liability could also land heavily on any officer who fails to stop another police officer from using such force. In order to prove excessive force, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an officer intentionally committed particular acts, thereby violating an individual’s 4thAmendment rights. This can be found in the U.S. Code at 18 U.S.C. § 242, which is a federal statute which makes law enforcement misconduct a crime.
Objectively Reasonable Use of Force
Officers are allowed to use force to defend themselves or others. When it comes to deadly force—the use of a gun—there are only two situations where such force is permitted:
- In defense of one’s life of the life of another innocent individual;
- When preventing a suspect who is believed to pose a danger to others (a violent felony) from escaping.
To be clear—whether or not there is an actual threat to life or of danger to others is irrelevant. What matters is whether the officer reasonably, objectively believed such danger existed at the time of the shooting.
Defense of the Defenders
Are you a law enforcement officer who subdued a suspect using force, only to be charged with excessive force by second-guessers after the fact? Now, more than ever, you need an aggressive and competent legal defender who will provide you with the vigorous defense the Constitution guarantees you. At Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A., we will fight for the best possible outcomes for you. Contact our Kissimmee assault and battery attorneys for a confidential consultation today.