Peter Blair | August 16, 2022 | Criminal Defense
Police misconduct or law enforcement misconduct takes many forms. Police officers and other law enforcement agents can be guilty of various actions violating a person’s civil rights and possibly breaking the law. Misconduct by law enforcement officers also includes failing to follow the standards and required procedures and policies for conducting their duties.
Ten examples of police misconduct are:
- Tampering with evidence
- Coerced confessions
- Malicious prosecution
- False imprisonment or arrest
- Police brutality
- Sexual assault
- Witness tampering or intimidation
- Lying on police reports
- Excessive force
- Mishandling evidence
Victims of police misconduct could have one or more remedies. First, the court could dismiss their criminal case. Then, they could have a civil lawsuit against the officers and the law enforcement agency.
Let’s look at some examples of police misconduct and how it impacted actual cases.
Police Brutality – The Beating of Rodney King
One of the worse cases of police brutality caught on film was the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991. Mr. King was afraid to stop when the police attempted to pull him over for speeding because he had been drinking.
When the officers pulled him over, they kicked him, savagely beat him with police batons, and tasered him. Mr. King won a civil suit against the officers.
Police Brutality – The Death of George Floyd
There are numerous recent examples of police brutality. George Floyd’s case was actually caught on video. Police officers pinned down Mr. Floyd as he begged for his life.
The police officers violated police department policies several times. As a result, they were fired and charged with crimes, including second-degree murder or aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Racial Profiling – Ferguson, Missouri
Police officers often use racial profiling to investigate crimes or detain individuals for questioning. The officers assume the person is guilty of a crime based solely on race. The law prohibits law enforcement agents from treating people differently based on race.
A well-known case of racial profiling occurred in Ferguson, MO. The police officers would routinely stop men of color without probable cause or an arrest warrant. In addition, the officers lied when questioned about their actions and only received a short suspension.
Fabricating Evidence – John Spencer Case
New York State Police officers did not believe they had sufficient evidence to support a homicide charge against John Spencer. They planted evidence to strengthen the case.
The officers lifted Mr. Spencer’s fingerprints from items he touched during the booking process. They planted the fingerprints on evidence cards for fingerprints at the crime scene.
Lying on Reports and Planting Evidence – The Walter Scott Case
In 2015, Walter Scott was shot and killed by Officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, SC. Officer Slager pulled over Mr. Scott for a broken taillight. The officer alleges that the two struggled for the officer’s taser before he shot Mr. Scott in “fear for his life.”
Because of a bystander’s video, it was discovered that Mr. Scott was running away from the officer when he shot Mr. Scott in the back. Then the officer placed his taser on the ground next to Mr. Scott to make up the story that he “feared for his life” after Mr. Scott took his taser from him. As a result, the officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Sexual Assault – Rape of a New York Woman
Two New York City police officers arrested a young woman on drug charges of possession of marijuana. They placed her in the police vehicle, where they violently raped and sexually assaulted her.
Officers Richard Hall and Eddie Martins tried to cover up the police misconduct by threatening the woman with criminal charges. Instead, they were charged with several sex crimes, coercion, and kidnapping.
False Arrest – The Rachelle Jackson Case
Ms. Jackson witnessed a traffic accident and ran to help. She pulled one of two Chicago police officers from the burning car and assisted him until other officers arrived. Then officers accused Ms. Jackson of stealing the injured officer’s weapon.
Ms. Jackson was arrested, held in jail for ten months, and coerced into signing a statement. The judge dismissed the case when it came to trial. Ms. Jackson sued for false arrest, coercive questioning, and malicious prosecution. She received a $7.7 million award.
Excessive Force – The Death of Eric Garner
Police officers arrested Mr. Garner for selling illegal cigarettes. They tackled him to the ground, and an officer used an illegal choke hold on Mr. Garner. Mr. Garner can be heard on video repeatedly saying he cannot breathe.
The officer did not release him from the chokehold. Mr. Garner died as a result of the officer’s actions. The officer was fired.
Unfortunately, many instances of excessive force result in the deaths of people at the hands of police officers. Innocent individuals go to jail because of police misconduct. If you believe you are the victim of police misconduct, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.