NYC Police Brutality Statistics

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

The lawyers in the Manhattan offices of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley 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. Misconduct Allegations Against New York City’s Cops Are Increasing – But Why Exactly?
  2. NYC Has Shelled Out $384M in 5 Years to Settle NYPD Suits.
  3. Mapping Police Violence.

What Is Excessive Police Force During Arrest?

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, 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,
  2. gov, Police Officer Misconduct,

When Do I Need a Civil Rights Attorney?

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, 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 & Bagley, 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
  2. Cornell Law School, Civil Rights