What to Do if a Police Officer Discriminates Against You

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

Police officers, like all law enforcement authorities, are legally and duty-bound to treat all persons equally and not to discriminate due to a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or other distinguishing characteristics. The New York civil rights attorneys at Manhattan’s Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. are dedicated to exposing NYPD discrimination and holding law enforcement officers accountable for their misconduct. If your civil rights were violated by the NYPD, you may be entitled to substantial monetary compensation, including punitive damages, to send a loud and clear message that this kind of abusive behavior will not be tolerated.  

What constitutes police discrimination?

A police officer can stop an individual for a brief and cursory holding and questioning if the officer has a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The holding period must be no longer than is necessary, and the officer must use the least intrusive means available to investigate the suspicious activity. The officer cannot arrest a person without a probable cause for that arrest.

The standards for what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” are not sharply defined. If you believe that an officer stopped you, for example, solely on account of your skin color or ethnic background, the officer will likely offer a contrary explanation that includes a rationale for the stop.  

Patterns of misconduct can help demonstrate police discrimination

If the officer who allegedly committed the act of discrimination has a personnel file that includes multiple reports of discriminatory conduct, it will show a pattern of behavior that will help substantiate your case.

In New York City, reports of police discrimination are filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (the “CCRB”). Before submitting your report to the CCRB, contact Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green. We can assess the circumstances of your discrimination case and advise you on how best to proceed, from filing a CCRB report to initiating a civil rights lawsuit.

Filing a lawsuit for police officer discrimination

You should contact a knowledgeable and experienced civil rights lawyer if you believe that you have been subjected to harassment by police solely because of your race or other class characteristics. This includes:

  • False arrests or unreasonably long periods of detention;
  • Excessive use of force;
  • Abusive surveillance with no suspicion of criminal activity;
  • Demands or suggestions for bribes; and
  • Verbal abuse or attacks that refer to a person’s race or ethnicity.

Police officers have a level of qualified immunity to civilian complaints. To overcome this immunity and to bring a successful lawsuit for police discrimination, the victim should record details of the incident and get the names and contact information for any witnesses.

Civil Rights Attorneys for Victims of Police Discrimination

A victim of actionable police discrimination has a right to sue the officer and that officer’s employer both in State and Federal Court. If you were treated unfairly by the NYPD based on your race, gender, or sexual orientation, please call us today to discuss your case directly with a civil rights attorney New York City trusts to fight relentlessly for equality and justice. We are not afraid to go up against the NYPD and the City when law enforcement personnel abuse their authority and the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect. All initial consultations are free.

What Are Your Rights When Pulled Over in New York?

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

Police officers are charged with protecting the safety and upholding the rights of individuals. Many officers are ethical professionals who carry out their mission to the best of their abilities. Yet, all too often, people suffer the violation of their civil rights at the hands of law enforcement personnel. It’s important for everyone to be aware of their civil rights in New York so they can swiftly identify when a violation may have occurred and take action by contacting a civil rights lawyer.

Your rights as a driver of a pulled-over vehicle

Every driver has rights and obligations. If a police officer indicates that they would like to pull you over, for example, you’re obligated to safely stop. However, you are not obligated to answer questions. Your personal rights during a traffic stop include the right to remain silent. To exercise this right, you can tell the police officer that you would like to remain silent. However, you must still show the officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request.

In New York City, police officers must inform you that they are requesting your consent to search your car, and they must also tell you that you have the right to refuse. The exceptions are if an officer has a search warrant and if the officer has probable cause that a crime has been committed.

After a traffic stop has been executed, you have the right to challenge its legality in a court of law. You can do this with the assistance of a civil rights attorney.

Your rights as a passenger of a pulled-over vehicle

In New York, passengers of vehicles that have been pulled over have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers do. Police officers could potentially order passengers to step out of the vehicle and submit to a search of their person. However, passengers are also protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, just like drivers. This means they have the right to pursue legal recourse if they have been the victim of an illegal search and seizure.

In short, like drivers, passengers have the following rights:

  • Protection from unlawful or unreasonable searches and seizures
  • Right to remain silent
  • Right to challenge, in a court of law, the legality of the traffic stop
  • Right to challenge, in a court of law, the legality of any search and seizure

Protect your civil rights with aggressive legal representation

If you believe your rights have been violated by a police officer, you need legal guidance right away. Contact the law office of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. to schedule a consultation with a veteran New York civil rights lawyer. We are committed to vigorously safeguarding the civil rights of individuals and groups and will explore all possible avenues of securing legal recourse on your behalf.

Whether you have been falsely arrested, subjected to an illegal search and seizure in your vehicle or home, wrongfully convicted, or been the victim of police brutality, our legal team will fight to defend your civil rights and freedoms. Individuals throughout New York City and Long Island are invited to contact our law firm to request a free consultationM

What Are Your Legal Options If a Police Officer Harassed You?

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

police car lights

Community policing and other initiatives have reduced but have not eliminated the reported incidents of police harassment in New York City. If you believe that a police officer has harassed you, the New York civil rights attorneys at Manhattan’s Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. will review your case at no cost to you and help you decide if taking legal action is in your best interest.

The Distinction Between Harassment and Aggressive Policing

 One person might perceive police actions as harassment, whereas the officer charged with harassment might characterize his or her actions as a reasonable response that was proportionate to the threat. Harassment is objectively defined as conduct that has no legitimate law enforcement purpose, and that causes a victim to suffer fear,  physical injuries, or emotional distress. That conduct might include:

  • Coercing false confessions;
  • Threatening witnesses to procure their testimony;
  • Regular surveillance with no probable cause;
  • Discrimination and profiling, including making comments that have racial, ethnic, or homophobic overtones;
  • Excessive use of force;  
  • Illegal search and seizures; and
  • Illegal or extended detentions.

Proving Police Harassment

In many cases, a police officer will have a very different description of circumstances than the person who is claiming police officer harassment. Determining the best legal actions in response to harassment will depend on the consistency and thoroughness of that person’s explanation of those circumstances. The person who is claiming harassment can accomplish this by:

  • Writing down everything that he or she remembers about the circumstances as soon as is possible after they occurred;
  • Taking multiple photographs of injuries that are the result of the police harassment;
  • Seeking immediate medical care for injuries, and retaining copies of medical reports that describe the nature and cause of those injuries;
  • Lodging a complaint directly with the police department, and following up on that complaint if no action is taken;
  • Safeguarding any physical evidence of the harassment and staying in contact with any witnesses to verify their observations.

Causes of Action for Police Harassment

Depending on the specific facts of a matter, a person who is the target of police harassment might have a cause of action under U.S. Federal Law if police harassment rose to the level of depriving that person of his or her Constitutional rights, privileges, and immunities.

That person might also have a valid complaint under both New York State and NYC Municipal Laws against individual police officers and the department that employs them.

A person who has been targeted by police should not hesitate to contact an experienced civil rights attorney. Causes of action under State and Municipal Laws have very short statutes of limitations. Any delay in filing a police harassment lawsuit may result in an early dismissal of the case.   

An Experienced Lawyer Can Help

An experienced civil rights lawyer will determine the best venue for filing a harassment lawsuit and will research the circumstances to fill in gaps and inconsistencies that can adversely affect the case. That lawyer can also check to see if the officer who is responsible for the harassment has any other complaints against him or her.

In extreme cases, police harassment may not be just the product of a rogue officer but may be a systemic problem that runs through an entire department or precinct. A civil rights lawyer can expose those problems and can use a lawsuit to put an end to particular types of police misconduct.

Call Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C.

At Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, and Green, we believe that the integrity of New York’s police force cannot be maintained unless we expose those elements that utilize unlawful police harassment as a law enforcement tool.

Please call us if you have been subjected to police harassment in Manhattan, the Bronx, Long Island, or Brooklyn to schedule an appointment with a New York City police brutality lawyer today.

Additional Resources:

  1. www.justice.gov: Addressing Police Misconduct Laws Enforce by the Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gov/crt/addressing-police-misconduct-laws-enforced-department-justice
  2. US Commission on Civil Rights, https://www.usccr.gov/pubs/nypolice/ch5.htm

What to Do if You’ve Been Wrongfully Convicted

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

justice engraved on a courthouse

In 2016, 166 wrongfully convicted individuals were exonerated in the United States. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, this figure represents the highest number of exonerees in more than three decades of record-keeping.

The causes of wrongful convictions in New York State have been thoroughly documented by the Innocence Project, which recently found that New York outpaces nearly every other state in the number of wrongful convictions reversed by modern DNA testing.

There are many factors that can lead to a wrongful conviction, from police misconduct and false accusations to erroneous witness identification.

Legal help after a wrongful conviction in New York

Civil rights attorneys at the NYC law firm of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green work tirelessly to get wrongfully convicted clients the justice – and compensation — they desperately deserve.

When your basic human rights are violated by law enforcement, investigators, prosecutors or the courts, legal remedies are available. Whether you were convicted of a crime or a loved one is currently behind bars for an offense they did not commit, our experienced lawyers may be able to help you recover money damages in a civil lawsuit.

Considering the long-term financial, emotional and social ramifications of a wrongful conviction, it is imperative that victims seek accomplished legal counsel to remedy the injustices suffered.

New York statutes: how wrongfully convicted are compensated

New York has laws in place that are intended to compensate individuals who were wrongfully convicted and/or imprisoned through no fault of their own. Under these statutes, one or more of the following criteria must be present to be eligible for compensation:

  • Served at least part of the sentence for a misdemeanor or felony conviction
  • Did not bring about the conviction through his or her own conduct
  • Did not commit the offense in question
  • Was pardoned on the grounds of innocence
  • The conviction was vacated or reversed
  • If the conviction was vacated, it was based on grounds that: the judgment was secured under duress or misrepresentation; fraud by the court or a prosecutor; no jurisdiction; the defendant was not capable of understanding the proceedings; false material evidence; discovery of new evidence, or DNA evidence proves the claimant is innocent

Wrongful conviction compensation

To qualify for exoneree compensation in New York, one must file a claim within two years of his or her pardon of innocence.

Overturned convictions can result in substantial compensatory awards for victims. Unlike many other states, New York has no cap on how much money an exoneree may be awarded.

One of the most publicized instances of wrongful conviction compensation in New York took place in 2014, when the City awarded five men, known as the “Central Park Five” a whopping $41 million. The young men – four African American and one Hispanic –were wrongly convicted of raping and beating a female jogger in Central Park back in 1989. The men later sued claiming racial profiling and discrimination along with malicious prosecution. The payout was meant to reimburse each man $1 million apiece for every year they spent behind bars.

Seek the justice you deserve by calling Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green for a free case evaluation with a dedicated wrongful conviction lawyer in New York.

Additional Resources:

  1. CBS News, How the wrongfully convicted are compensated for years lost https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-the-wrongfully-convicted-are-compensated/
  2. Innocence Project, New York Leads Most States in Number of Wrongful Convictions, Must Enact Reforms to Prevent Them, Innocence Project Report Finds https://www.innocenceproject.org/new-york-leads-most-states-in-number-of-wrongful-convictions-must-enact-reforms-to-prevent-them-innocence-project-report-finds/
  3. ProPublica.org, New York State to Pay Millions in Wrongful Conviction Case https://www.propublica.org/article/state-to-pay-millions-in-wrongful-conviction-case
  4. Washington Post, Wrongful convictions have stolen at least 20,000 years from innocent defendants https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/09/10/report-wrongful-convictions-have-stolen-at-least-20000-years-from-innocent-defendants/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a5728b9f8485
  5. New York Consolidated Laws, Court of Claims Act – CTC § 8-b. Claims for unjust conviction and imprisonment https://codes.findlaw.com/ny/court-of-claims-act/ctc-sect-8-b.html

How A Civil Rights Lawyer Can Help

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

U.S. laws protect citizens from unjust discrimination based on race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and disability. Civil rights include the right to free speech, religion, and assembly, as well as the right to petition the government, the right to procedural due process, the right to innocence until proven guilty, and the right to remain silent. People file civil rights lawsuits for unreasonable searches and seizures, cruel and unusual punishment, loss of employment or promotion due to discrimination, abuse by a public official, police brutality, or any discrimination based on superficial qualities or beliefs. While these freedoms are clearly spelled out in United States law, Americans may need the help of a civil rights lawyer to enforce the law and protect these interests in court.

Do You Need A Civil Rights Lawyer?

Technically, you can file a lawsuit as a self-represented litigant. Every year, millions of plaintiffs file on their own, without a lawyer. However, it’s not recommended for a number of reasons. Here’s why you need a civil rights attorney:

  1. Your opponent has a lawyer.

If you’re suing an employer, retail business, police department, college, or other entity, rest assured they’ve got legal counsel protecting their assets. Their legal counsel is helping them exploit every possible loophole in the system. They’re taking a fine-tooth comb to your story to find ways to get a summary judgement to throw out the case without a hearing. With enough resources, the opposition can hire professionals you’ve never met to call your credibility into question and disparage your reputation. On the other hand, if you hire a lawyer, you’ll be on an even playing field to fight these accusations and wage war of your own.

  • A lawyer makes the difference between winning and losing.

In some types of cases, not having legal counsel can make a dramatic difference. For instance, in New York City housing disputes, 90% of the landlords are represented by law firms, whereas 90% of tenants are not. The end result is that self-represented tenants are evicted nearly 50 percent of the time. With a lawyer, they win compensation 90 percent of the time.

  • The paperwork and protocol are overwhelming!

Even the most seemingly straightforward legal matters require dozens of steps. In one study, researchers identified 200 discrete tasks that self-represented litigants must perform in civil cases, including finding the right court, filing motions, compiling evidence, and negotiating a settlement.

  • Tasks may require specialized knowledge of the law and the court system in general.

There are eight major civil rights laws in the United States, enacted in 1866, 1871, 1875, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1991. On top of that, each state has its own civil code of laws and penalties for breaking them. Some judges and jurors are more sympathetic to civil rights cases than others. The success of a civil rights case often involves constructing the right legal argument, so you need to know all the subtle intricacies and every possible grounds to sue. Sometimes you can succeed on multiple levels, but you have to know which angles are most likely to prevail.

  • You need to actually show up to represent your interests.

Self-represented litigation involves numerous appearances, which means time away from work and the need to secure childcare. You’ll need reliable transportation to and from the courthouse. If you do not speak English as a first language, you’ll need access to a translator. Missing one step, deadline, or appearance could mean you have to start the whole process over again or may result in case dismissal without option to refile. A law firm can send representatives to meetings and courthouses on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about it.     

What Can You Expect from Your Civil Rights Lawyer?

Working with a civil rights attorney begins with a case review, which is offered free of charge at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green. From there, your lawyer will decide whether or not to represent your case, and you can decide if you feel comfortable enough with the legal team to take the next step.

Once you’ve retained a civil rights attorney, your lawyer will:

  • Cover the cost of filing the lawsuit and all other related fees during the litigation.
  • Interview you, witnesses, the defendant, and any other parties involved in the case.
  • Prepare depositions to use as testimonial evidence.
  • Handle correspondence with the opposition, speaking professionally on your behalf.
  • File motions, briefs, documents, and discovery plans with the court.
  • Hire experts to testify and lend credibility to your case.
  • Engage the other side in settlement negotiations outside the court room.
  • Present your case before judge and jury if necessary.
  • Advise you whether to accept a fair settlement or hold out for greater compensation.

Are You Worried You Can’t Afford a Lawyer for Your Civil Rights Case?

People who have had their civil rights violated may suffer heavy losses due to medical bills, lost employment, disability, wrongful death of a family breadwinner, or emotional pain. That is why we offer FREE CASE REVIEWS and legal representation on a contingency basis with NO UPFRONT LEGAL FEES. If we fail to win your case, you owe us nothing. If we are successful, we take the industry standard legal fee, a previously agreed-upon percentage of your settlement or award. Hiring an attorney is more likely to result in maximum compensation, so you walk away with more in your pocket than you would have attempting to navigate the legal maze alone. Contact a New York City civil rights lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb and Green to explore your legal options today. Most cases are subject to deadlines called “statutes of limitations,” so don’t delay.

Additional resources:

Understanding Police Liability for Injuries

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

police car lights

The New York City Police have enormous responsibilities, but in some instances, they cause injury to those they were sworn to protect and serve. When the police hurt someone as a result of careless or reckless conduct – intentional or not – it is a breach of the officer’s duty. In some cases, it may be possible to pursue a claim for compensation, but the laws and procedures are very strict when it comes to making a police brutality or misconduct claim. This is an area that calls for the help of an experienced attorney.

When are the police liable for injuries?

Like others in society, the police are bound by the duty to perform their jobs properly. When they act careless or abuse their power, they may be legally liable for resulting damages. However, the circumstances of the case will determine whether the liability arises as a tort (the legal term for a civil wrong arising from a breach of duty that leads to someone’s injury) or as a civil rights violation.

When the police are carrying out their duties properly, they are immune from lawsuits. But in some cases, like when the police are abusing their authority in a way that deprives another of his or her rights, it can be a violation of constitutional rights.

Instances of injuries caused by police

Some of the actions by police that can lead to injuries include excessive force and car crashes during police chases.

The amount of force that an officer is permitted to use depends on the circumstances of the case. A degree of force that is excessive in one scenario may be reasonable in another. Even if the arrest is warranted, the amount of force must not exceed that which is reasonably necessary for that situation. The intentions of the officer are not the deciding factor; the officer may have an improper motivation, but that does not render otherwise appropriate force as excessive. And even if the officer meant well, it does not make excessive force acceptable.

Sometimes innocent bystanders are injured as a result of high-speed car chases. Like excessive force cases, whether the police are liable depends on reasonableness under the circumstances. Police officers and other first responders are generally immune from liability for accidents. However, when they act in such a reckless manner that they put bystanders at risk, the immunity disappears.

People can be injured by other actions of the police as well. For example, the officers may neglect to give someone in custody their necessary medication, leading to injury or death. Again, the continuing theme is that each case depends on an evaluation of reasonableness under the circumstances. It is therefore critically important to speak with an experienced attorney about any potential claims.

Pursuing a claim against the police for injuries

Because of the complex relationship between governmental immunity for the police and the city, state, and federal laws, claims for injury against government agencies need to be filed first against the entity. In New York, a claimant needs to file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the incident. It is important to speak with a police brutality lawyer as quickly as possible after a police-related injury. 

The civil rights lawyers at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green invite those who have unfairly suffered because of NYC police actions to call to schedule a confidential consultation. From our Manhattan office, we serve clients throughout New York City, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, and also Long Island.

Additional Resources:

  1. New York City Bar, The Failure of Civil Damages to Modify Police Practices and Recommendations for Change, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/the-failure-of-civil-damages-claims-to-modify-police-practices-and-recommendations-for-change
  2. City of New York, File a Claim, https://comptroller.nyc.gov/services/for-the-public/claims/file-a-claim/

NYC Civil Rights Actions Lawyers

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

police car lights

If you have suffered harm at the hands of overzealous law enforcement authorities, you may have a right to sue those authorities to recover compensation for your personal injuries. If you believe that your civil rights have been violated , your best course of action will be to retain a knowledgeable and experienced civil rights lawyer who has a thorough understanding of the landscape of civil rights lawsuits in NY State.

The attorneys at Manhattan’s Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. have represented victims of civil rights abuses throughout New York City. Call us if you believe that your rights have been trampled upon by law enforcement or any other government agency, or if you have experienced discrimination as a result of your ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. 

Civil rights violations are matters of federal law

Unlike personal injury lawsuits, which are generally matters of state law, civil rights claims are premised primarily on federal law. Section 1863 of the U.S. Reconstruction Civil Rights Act creates a mechanism for individuals who have experienced civil rights abuses to bring a federal action against the party that is responsible for the abuse. If you are considering filing a lawsuit for redress of a civil rights violation, verify that your attorney has the knowledge and skills to prosecute an action in federal court.

Civil rights violations encompass a number of different abusive conducts

A civil rights violation can occur in several ways, including false imprisonment or extended detention by police without probable cause, inmate abuse, unwarranted law enforcement encounters that are based on racial profiling, or police shootings or other police misconduct. Your civil rights lawyer should be able to evaluate the circumstances of your situation to determine whether and to what extent your civil rights have been breached.

Expect aggressive defense from law enforcement

There is a fine line between legitimate law enforcement action and police conduct that crosses a line into a civil rights violation. Body cameras and other surveillance technology will likely record any confrontation with law enforcement, which will use that evidence to argue the validity of their actions under the circumstances. A civil rights attorney needs to be well-versed in proper police procedures to understand the distinction between legitimate and unlawful police conduct.

Your potential damages can include more than just monetary recovery to compensate you for physical injuries

Victims of civil rights violations may be able to claim damages for harm to their finances and reputation, and impairments of the qualities of their lives and mental health. Where perpetrators of those violations have demonstrated a long history of civil rights abuses, an experienced attorney may have a valid argument for punitive damages. Consult with your civil rights lawyer about the damages that you may be entitled to recover.

Call Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green for Civil Rights Representation in New York City

The civil rights lawyers in the Manhattan offices of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, and Green will review the facts of your case and give you a professional assessment of the potential for a lawsuit against the party or parties that disregarded the civil rights protections that are provided by the U.S. Constitution and federal law. We represent individuals in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island whose civil rights have been violated by law enforcement and other official parties. Please call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.   

Additional Resources:

NYC Police Brutality Statistics

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

police car lights

Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the use of force by police officers must be “objectively reasonable”, meaning that an officer’s actions must be reviewed from the perspective of a hypothetical “reasonable officer” on the scene. The objective reasonableness of an officer’s actions is a function of the severity of the crime, the immediate threat posed by the suspect, and the suspect’s attempts to resist arrest or evade an arresting officer.

The civil rights attorneys at Manhattan’s Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. in New York City note that this standard has helped law enforcement authorities to make better decisions in New York City and elsewhere, but that police brutality incidents have not been eliminated. New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) annually receives thousands of reports of police brutality in NYC. You may be eligible to file a lawsuit for police brutality if a law enforcement officer exceeded the limits of objective reasonableness in an encounter with you. 

Police Brutality Statistics: The Basics

The statistics reveal the extent of the problem:

  • In 2017, the CCRB received 4,487 civilian complaints of abuse of authority, excessive use of force, and other police misconduct. That number represented a 5% increase in complaints over 2016.
  • An average of about 20% of the complaints filed with the CCRB were validated, meaning that the individuals who filed those complaints had legitimate reasons for doing so.
  • In 2018, police shot and killed 1,166 individuals across the United States.
  • Minorities and persons of color are more than twice as likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than Caucasians.

A Sampling of NYC Police Brutality Cases

  • In 2015, the City paid $5.9 million to the family of Eric Garber, who died after police placed him in an unlawful chokehold.
  • The City paid $4.5 million to the family of Akai Gurley, who was accidentally shot and killed  by police in 2012.
  • The City paid $2.5 million to Sol Cecilia Reyes in 2014 after police fatally shot her son, Noel Palanco, following a 2012 traffic stop in Queens.

These cases represent the high end of the spectrum of settlements that have been paid out by New York City to resolve legitimate complaints of police brutality.  An experienced civil rights lawyer who has successfully represented other parties in police brutality lawsuits will be able to advise you on the strength of your case and your chance of receiving substantial money damages.

More Than Just Fatal Shootings: Police Brutality Examples

Fatal shootings by police officers are more likely to be reported in the news because of their tragic consequences. Police brutality encompasses far more than just fatal shootings. A civil lawsuit for police brutality can arise from:

  • Physical or verbal abuse;
  • Excessive force that is objectively unreasonable under the circumstances;
  • False arrest, wrongful imprisonment, or detainment for a period longer than is reasonable;
  • Discrimination on account of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation;
  • Sexual harassment;
  • Excessive tasering, or use of a taser where not warranted; and
  • Unlawful searches and seizures.   

A private citizen can feel understandably intimidated by a police officer. The U.S. Constitution, however, provides important protections to reduce any police intimidation. For example, police officers cannot force an individual to speak with them without a lawyer being present. Likewise, an individual does not need to admit a police officer or any other law enforcement authority into his or her house if that officer does not have a proper warrant.

The police have a very difficult job, but they must perform the duties of that job within the limits imposed on them by our free society. If a police officer exceeds those limits  in an objectively unreasonable manner, then that officer and the police department that he or she represents may be liable for monetary damages in a police brutality lawsuit.

Proof of Police Brutality

Many police officers now wear body cameras that capture video evidence of their encounters with civilians. That video recording, however, is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to gathering evidence of police brutality. Third party eyewitness testimony, medical reports, and other physical evidence from any incident allegedly involving police brutality can enhance or even rebut video evidence. If you believe that you were the victim of police brutality, you should immediately contact an attorney who has experience in investigating incidents involving misconduct on the part of law enforcement. The police misconduct lawyers at our firm work with professional investigators to collect and preserve evidence while it is still fresh.

Call Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. for Representation in New York Police Brutality Cases

The lawyers in the Manhattan offices of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, and Green represent individuals in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and throughout NYC and Long Island who have suffered harm and injuries as a result of excessive use of force and other egregious misconduct by police officers. Please call us as soon as is possible after you have experienced an incident of police brutality.   

Additional Resources:

  1. www.observer.com: Misconduct Allegations Against New York City’s Cops Are Increasing – But Why Exactly? https://observer.com/2018/04/nypd-police-misconduct-allegations/
  2. www.nypost.com: NYC Has Shelled Out $384M in 5 Years to Settle NYPD Suits. https://nypost.com/2018/09/04/nyc-has-shelled-out-384m-in-5-years-to-settle-nypd-suits/
  3. www.mappingpoliceviolence.org: Mapping Police Violence. https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

What Is Excessive Police Force During Arrest?

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

police car lightsPolice officers in New York City occasionally need to use reasonable force to protect themselves and the public. Where problems arise is when that force is not reasonable, but is instead excessive. Excessive force amounts to police brutality, and is not just a civil liability issue but also a violation of constitutional rights. So when is use of force by the police excessive?

Reasonable v. excessive force

Reasonable force by police is that which is necessary to apprehend and arrest a suspect. Once the force goes beyond that, it is potentially excessive.

Whether out of anger, frustration, or some other reason, police sometimes step well outside the bounds of necessary force and commit acts such as:

  • Beating a suspect after he has been handcuffed
  • Using impermissible means of restraint like choke-holds
  • Using pepper spray as a punishment rather than a form of self-defense
  • Hitting or kicking the suspect’s face
  • Shooting an unarmed suspect

Whether an officer’s use of force was excessive is a very fact-specific determination.

Factors in determining whether police force was excessive

Some of the factors courts will look at in determining whether the police used more force than necessary include:

  • The severity of the alleged crime
  • Whether the suspect resisted arrest or attempted to flee
  • Whether the suspect was considered dangerous

Cops are required to act reasonably based on what they know at the time of the arrest, so the factors are aimed at determining what would be reasonable. For someone who has been arrested, a New York police brutality lawyer can help determine whether a situation constituted excessive force.

What is the recourse for police excessive force?

Civil lawsuits against the officers, their superiors, or the police department are used to hold them accountable. Legal claims may include assault and battery, negligence, and civil rights violations.

There have been several high-profile cases in which victims of police brutality have recovered multi-million dollar awards after police exceeded their authority and caused physical harm. Most recently, in late October 2018, a man from Long Island City, Rudy Collins, filed an excessive force lawsuit against the NYPD over an incident that occurred in 2017. Collins, a 25-year-old youth basketball coach stopped for coffee on his way to game when he was stopped by NY officers who questioned where he was going, where he was coming from, and refusing to explain why they were questioning him. Collins alleges that despite his cooperation, the officers beat him, handcuffed him, and even twisted his genitals before detaining him for several hours without explanation.

How an NYC police brutality lawyer can help

Victims of excessive police force can face a number of unpleasant experiences, from physical trauma to emotional pain, fear, and embarrassment. The New York City police brutality attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green understand the effects that this kind of mistreatment can leave behind and are here to help fight for just compensation. Call today to schedule a confidential consultation.

Additional NYC police excessive force resources:

  1. ABC7NY, Exclusive: Queens man files lawsuit, accuses NYPD of excessive force, https://abc7ny.com/video-queens-man-accuses-nypd-of-excessive-force/4591093/
  2. gov, Police Officer Misconduct, https://portal.311.nyc.gov/

When Do I Need a Civil Rights Attorney?

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Civil Rights

scales of justice in law libraryCivil liberties are a right bestowed upon all Americans. These freedoms ensure equal opportunities and equal treatment regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political views, religion or disability. Repression, discrimination or mistreatment on the basis of any of these factors is not only unjust, but a federal violation. As a citizen of the United States, you are afforded protections for the freedom of speech, the right to due process, religion and assembly, and the right to petition against state and local governments.

When these basic freedoms are violated by individuals or representatives of government, victims have remedies for legal recourse. The Constitution of the United States protects citizens from unlawful infringement or abuses, whether committed by a public official, a workplace employer or a law enforcement agent.

Do I need a civil rights lawyer?

If you believe that your civil rights have been violated based on characteristics such as gender, national origin, or race, you are encouraged to speak with an experienced attorney who specializes in this complex area of law.

These violations are among the most deplorable because they involve trusted persons in positions of authority. Even one false arrest or wrongful conviction is too many, but the reality is this type of iniquity is all too common.

A skilled civil rights lawyer understands all facets of these constitutional protections and can help victims outline the best course of action for seeking redress and justice. Since these cases are some of the most challenging to investigate and pursue, it is essential to partner with an advocate who has extensive knowledge and experience.

Violations of civil liberties

A civil rights claim may arise from various violations and can be resolved through mediation, administrative reviews, settlement negotiations or trial.

Some common examples of civil rights cases include:

  • Police misconduct such as unlawful arrest
  • Unjust imprisonment
  • Police brutality
  • Prosecutorial misconduct
  • Workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex, race, religion or ethnicity
  • Unlawful searches and seizures
  • Wrongful conviction

Though challenging to litigate, a civil rights lawsuit can seek compensatory damages against the defendant – and in cases entailing particularly wanton conduct — punitive damages. An attorney can advise you on the merits of your case, the likelihood of success, and the projected timeline for litigation.

Effective representation in New York City

If you are seeking a tenacious New York City civil rights lawyer, look no further than Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Contact our practice for straightforward, candid guidance about your legal matter. If we agree to take on your case, there are no upfront legal fees since we operate on a contingency basis.

We will commit all of the necessary resources to properly investigate your claim, retain expert witnesses and present a compelling case that fights for truth, justice and the freedoms to which you are entitled. We represent clients throughout the greater New York City metro area and Long Island.

If your civil rights have been violated, don’t delay in reaching out for a private case review today. Call 212-307-5800 or 800-969-5389.

Additional Resources on Civil Rights Matters:

  1. Justia, Civil Rights Cases https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/109/3/
  2. Cornell Law School, Civil Rights https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/civil_rights