Over the last two years, police brutality appears to be at the forefront of so many issues. Do the police have too much power? Are officers trained adequately? How can people, especially those of minority, avoid potentially fatal police confrontation?
Perhaps the craziest question is the one about why we even need to ask those particular questions. Somewhere along the line, society as a whole has started to shift from honoring and trusting officers as if they could do no wrong, to persecuting them for every alleged mistake they make.
Officers are allowed to use lethal force, by law. However, they must reserve the right to use lethal force only for cases in which it is demanded. They are allowed to physically detain and restrain suspects, make arrests, and use the force necessary to lessen the danger to themselves or others posed by the suspect. The force used must be reasonable, creating an objective standard by which officers are me
ant to follow.
There are different rules proscribed to each of a police officer’s weapons, as well. For instance, a police officer using a baton is instructed not to hit the suspect in the head, and should stop hitting the suspect altogether when the suspect is subdued or disabled. Likewise, improper use of Taser can cause a heart attack by stopping and altering heart rhythms. It is important to note whether a cop using a Taser did so because of an actual physical threat or if the suspect was simply being obnoxious with his words. An officer is not permitted to repeatedly tase a suspect unless necessary to subdue him. Officers are further limited in the ways in which they use their pepper sprays, their handcuffs, their tactics for taking down a suspect, or even the manner in which they perform crowd control.
However, no more strict regulations exist than for those involving a deadly weapon, such as a gun. For this, officers must assess each situation at hand closely and weigh the use of deadly force against the threat being posed against them. If the threat is not sufficient, force (let alone deadly force) is not allowed.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, or their professional license is at risk, contact Attorney Miranda McCroskey for an immediate free consultation at (714) 389-2257 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
McCroskey is a partner at Wilson Harvey Browndorf in Irvine, heading the criminal defense department.