5 Steps to Take if You Were a Victim of Police Misconduct in Florida
As nationwide protests erupted over the killing of a black man by a police officer, human rights advocates have been concerned about the excessive use of force by police during those protests.
As reported by USA Today, the disgraceful killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked outrage across the nation after a bystander’s cellphone video showed a white officer holding his knee to the black man’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
The police officer was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. However, the black man’s family members and protesters are calling for the officer to be charged with first-degree murder.
What to Do if You Were a Victim of Police Misconduct in Florida?
Unfortunately, the use of excessive force by police, which is one of the forms of police misconduct, is not a rare occurrence in Florida or other states. Luckily, civilians who are injured at the hands of law enforcement can seek compensation for any damages caused by police brutality.
If you believe that you have become a victim of police misconduct in Orange, Hillsborough, or Polk County, or other parts of Florida, during an arrest, protest, traffic stop, or any other interaction with law enforcement, there are five steps that you should take in order to seek compensation for your personal injury and resulting losses.
- Contact a Skilled Attorney
Reaching out to a knowledgeable police misconduct lawyer is critical if you were injured at the hands of law enforcement. A skilled attorney will:
- help you preserve and collect necessary evidence proving police brutality;
- assist you with filling out the appropriate paperwork to sue the department; and
- help you understand your legal rights.
- Preserve and Gather Evidence
Having physical evidence of police misconduct is going to strengthen your legal case against the police. Thus, you must preserve and collect all available evidence from the very beginning. That means taking pictures of your injuries, the police officer or their car, tracking down any video footage (recorded by witnesses or surveillance cameras) that shows the incident, and others. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you obtain access to surveillance footage.
- Take Notes
As a plaintiff in a police misconduct case, you will be required to prove that the police officer or department committed misconduct. For this reason, you need to write down all details about what happened. If the police officer who engaged in improper behavior cannot be identified, write down a description of the officer.
- Seek Medical Attention
The importance of receiving medical treatment following police misconduct cannot be overstated because you need evidence that the officer caused you some type of harm. You might be entitled to compensation even if you suffered emotional trauma or psychological injury as a result of police brutality.
- File a Grievance or Complaint
Under Florida law, any victim of police misconduct is required to file a formal notice of claim sent to the appropriate agency six months before suing. The notice must contain a description of your grievance in order to launch the investigation. A knowledgeable attorney will help you file a grievance or complaint against the police in Florida to preserve your right to pursue a lawsuit.