You feel like your civil rights might have been violated by an officer, you might be asking yourself “who should I sue – the officer, the department, or the city?” Most people think you need to sue the police department, because that’s who the officer works for – like the LAPD. However, the LAPD is not a proper Defendant. You actually need to sue the officer individually and sue the city, county or state that the officer works for. For example, if an LAPD officer violates your rights, you need to sue the Officer and the City of Los Angeles – not the LAPD. If it was a Sheriff that violated your rights, you would need to sue that Deputy and the County of Los Angeles – not the Sheriff’s Department.
Sometimes a case might be filed as or referred to as “plaintiff v. Los Angeles Police Department.” But even then, it’s actually the Officer and the city itself that are being sued and not the department.
That’s because the Los Angeles Police Department is an ‘organization’ under the City of Los Angeles. So, any civil rights situation involving police misconduct against you or your loved ones means that you can then sue the offending officer(s) and the City of Los Angeles (who they, essentially, work for).
Think about it. Who pays the LAPD? The city. So, the city is who you’re going to want to target in your lawsuit if you are a victim of police misconduct, wrongful arrest or brutality.