The New York Police Department has received a lot of public scrutiny in recent months.
The death of Eric Garner, who passed away after being put in a chokehold by New York police, started a public discussion – and public outrage – over practices by police regarding the use of force on suspects. Since Mr. Garner’s death, there has been tension between the mayor’s office and police over criticisms by Mayor Bill de Blasio regarding police use of force.
There has also been an increasing discussion over police use of “chokeholds” as a means of restraining suspects. A recent investigation has shown that such a discussion is necessary.
According to the New York Times, in 2014 the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated half a dozen complaints of police using chokeholds on NYC residents. A seventh substantiated complaint was filed in January, 2015. In 2013, there were 179 complaints of police using chokeholds; in 2014, the number rose to 222.
Using a chokehold is against department policy in New York as a means of “restraining” suspects, and has been since 1993. There is a bill before the City Council that would make the practice illegal, although the measure has yet to pass.
Historically, the review board recommends that police officers who use chokeholds receive stiff punishment, up to and including termination. However, the five officers involved in substantiated chokehold complaints, which occurred across four New York City Burroughs, including Brooklyn and Queens, received little or no disciplinary actions. A spokeswoman for the Civilian Complaint Review Board did not reveal to the NYT any details of the substantiated claims, invoking New York’s Civil Rights Law which protects an officer’s personnel record from the public.
Legal options after experiencing excessive force
Victims of police brutality do have rights. A civil rights lawsuit alleging police brutality can help an injured victim cover costs associated with the police brutality, including physical injuries, damage to public image, and pain and suffering. In addition, a lawsuit can help hold police accountable for their actions.
From 2009 to 2014, the NYPD paid out $428 million in settlements involving police conduct, although not all cases involved police brutality.
In order to recover in a lawsuit involving police misconduct, the person subjected to the mistreatment must show the officer used willful, unreasonable conduct. Negligence or failure to exercise due care is not grounds for a lawsuit. Common grounds to file a civil rights violation include false arrest, excessive force, and failure to intervene.
Contact an experienced New York civil rights attorney
Police are meant to serve and protect, and most do. Some officers abuse their power, however, and when that occurs, the victims have legal rights.
The Law Offices of Bonita E. Zelman have significant experience helping clients obtain fair compensation after experiencing police brutality. A civil lawsuit can help victims recover their image and health while holding the NYPD accountable.