Over the last few decades, police misconduct has been a growing concern. Since 2020, almost every day we hear stories of police officers being accused of various degrees of misconduct, varying from inappropriate behavior to racial profiling, and ultimately blatant civil rights violations, wrongful arrests, and excessive force. Police misconduct is a serious issue that affects everyone.
So, when hearing the words “police officer”, what comes to mind now? In a perfect world, you would be thinking of local government employees who are essentially heroes putting their lives on the line to protect you, enforce the law, and even investigate crimes. But, the perception concerning police officers is widely different and appears to be getting worse.
How so? Who is to blame? What has changed? While this can be a complicated question, the simplest way to answer is: a better informed and fed up society with cell phone cameras that are simply catching police officers in the act.
What is Police Misconduct?
Our firm, like this article, focuses on illegal or unethical actions of police officers or the violation of someone’s constitutional rights by police officers in the conduct of their duties. The most common forms of misconduct that appear to be flooding the new are as follow:
– Police Brutality and Excessive Force: using an unnecessary or unreasonable degree of force in light of the circumstances;
– Dishonesty and Fabrication of Evidence: knowingly making false statement of creating false evidence in an attempt to maliciously prosecute a person;
– Searching and Arresting Without Cause: stopping, searching, and arresting citizens without having the necessary probable cause or reasonable suspicion to do so.
– Sexual assault: Using their position to sexually assault a victim or demand sexual favors in exchange for professional favors or leniency.
Every person living in the United States has a constitutional right to be protected from police misconduct as articulated in the reasonable search and seizure requirement of the Fourth Amendment, and the prohibition of cruel and inhuman punishment in the Eighth Amendment in the Constitution of the United States of America.
However, California has built over decades some of the strongest legal protections for law enforcement officers in the country. But that appears to be changing.
Police Misconduct & the State of California
California is one of only four states in the United States without the power to decertify an officer due to police misconduct. Because of this, stories have been reported through the years of officers involved in questionable killings and still being allowed to stay on the streets, only to kill again. But this does not stop here.
Some police officers have been fired from one department, only to quietly move to another department. But on September 30th 2021, California Governor Newsom signed a bill, the SB-2, that will change this.
What will the bill do?
This will give the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training the power to decertify an officer for “police misconduct” — effectively kicking them out of the profession for things like sexual assault, perjury and wrongfully killing civilians. How will this happen?
A nine-member advisory board will go over the evidence and recommend whether to revoke an officer’s certification or not. This board will be formed mostly by civilians without policing experience, and will include four members who would be the experts on “police accountability” and two who have either personally suffered from police misconduct or lost a loved one to such an incident.
So, what can you do now if you feel that your constitutional or legal rights were broken while interacting with a police officer as a result of their use of excessive force?
Standing Against Misconduct
At Kirakosian Law, we stand up to government entities when there’s evidence of police misconduct. We have no problem taking cases to federal court. Our firm actively pursues cases involving improper conduct, false arrests, unjustified shootings, and other abuses of power.
Every case will be dependent on the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, so you will need a strong defense attorney in order to ensure that your legal and constitutional rights are protected.
If we can’t reach an appropriate settlement through mediation, we are fully prepared to take civil cases to trial. If you or someone you know has suffered emotional distress or injury due to a civil rights violation, such as police misconduct, contact our attorney at Kirakosian Law APC for a free consultation.
*These blogs are meant purely for educational purposes. They contain only general information about legal matters. They are not legal advice, and should not be treated as such. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult with an attorney.
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