Everyone knows that the police take an oath to protect and serve, which is why it can seem like an uphill battle to prove that police actions have turned abusive. At times, officers cross the line and violate the rights of everyday citizens. If you have been the victim of police brutality, the steps you take in the wake of an event of brutality can impact your physical safety as well as your right and ability to pursue justice for the overstep of authority.
Protect Yourself in The Event of Police Misconduct
Your physical well-being is important. Except in very rare circumstances, the misconduct of an officer can be addressed after the fact. The safest course of action is to try not to escalate the situation and to speak with a civil rights attorney as soon as possible after the incident. Important steps include:
- Remain calm and respectful. Even if the officers’ actions are disrespectful or unfair, you may be able to diffuse the situation by remaining respectful. Being approached by the police may feel threatening, but the police are also on alert for acts of aggression toward them, and your calm, polite demeanor can remove any excuse they may have to act inappropriately toward you.
- Seek medical attention. If a cop crossed the line into physical abuse, seek medical care. You have the right to seek medical attention even if you are in police custody, and even if the police caused the harm for which you seek attention. Keep your own copies of any medical records you receive.
If an officer is acting unprofessionally, responding with aggression will never fix the situation. Instead, maintain composure and let your New York City civil rights lawyer handle the matter afterward.
Protect Your Rights
Police brutality is a violation of physical boundaries and legal rights. Knowing what to do to protect yourself can help your attorney prove your police misconduct case.
- Know your rights. Even before your interaction with the police begins, you have certain constitutional rights. If you are not arrested, you have the right to ask whether you are free to leave; if you are not free, the cops must read you your rights. Even if they do not, you have the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. Again, a respectful demeanor is important, and you can respectfully state that you do not wish to speak without an attorney.
- Preserve evidence. Write down as much information as you can as soon as possible. Take note of the officers’ names and badge numbers of any officers with whom you interact, what happened, and who else witnessed the event. You may also be able to obtain video surveillance if the police cruiser was equipped with cameras or the officers were wearing body cams. Nearby businesses, homes, or even traffic intersections may be equipped with cameras that captured the incident and quick action by your attorney may lead to the preservation of the footage.
If you have been physically harmed by an NYC cop, speak with a police brutality attorney as soon as possible. The team at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green is ready and willing to stand up to the NYPD when officers overstep legal boundaries. Call to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.