On January 8, Robert Jackson, age 19, encountered police near the Flushing YMCA. According to court documents, Jackson directed some salty language toward the officers, then refused to obey a command to show his hands.
While Jackson was not completely blameless in his actions, onlookers were stunned by the heavy-handedness of the police response. According to Jackson, he was punched repeatedly and officers mashed his face into the sidewalk. One bystander captured the last few moments of the skirmish with a cell phone camera, but by then the damage had been done: a large C-shaped wound had been scraped into Jackson’s left cheek from contact with the pavement. When the officers searched Jackson, they found only a small Ziploc bag of marijuana.
Appearing at a press conference with his lawyer a few weeks later, Jackson’s facial injuries were still not fully healed.
“When I first saw my face, I was shocked,” said Jackson, according to an account from New York Daily News. An NYPD spokesman told the Daily News that the matter has been referred to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board receives approximately 250 phone complaints regarding police brutality every month. Clearly, confrontations like the one that led to Robert Jackson’s facial injury are not just isolated incidents.
If you’ve been harmed by police brutality, you might not know what to do. However, with the right legal assistance, you may have a variety of options that can help set things right.
First, it is important to recognize that while using excessive violent force is one of the most common and harmful types of police misconduct, it is not the only type. Other examples of wrongful misconduct by law enforcement officials include false arrest (detaining someone without the proper level of suspicion that they have committed a crime), neglect of prisoners in jail, and even verbal attacks or psychological intimidation.
When police engage in misconduct and someone is harmed as a result, that person may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the individual officers involved and/or the department. This type of lawsuit seeks monetary damages – in other words, compensation for any types of losses suffered.
For example, imagine that police used an unreasonable amount of force in arresting a suspect who was not resisting, and his arm was broken as a result. He may be able to recover damages to pay for his medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages while he can’t work due to the injury.
In addition, in especially egregious instances of police brutality, punitive damages may be a possibility. These damages can go above and beyond any actual harm suffered, and are meant to punish and deter particularly harmful police misconduct.
If, like Robert Jackson, you were harmed by the NYPD and believe their use of force was excessive, bring your case to an experienced police brutality lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to assess you case and explain what types of damages you may be entitled to.