7 Things You Need to Do Right Away If You Believe You’re a Victim of Police Brutality
Laws must be upheld by a source that is able to enforce them. That is why we have a law enforcement system in place in every country in the world. However, there is a fine line between upholding the law and overstepping the boundaries that take a police officer from necessary to excessive force and violating your rights.
There are federal laws in our country in place to address police misconduct, and these laws cover criminal and civil statutes across the actions of state, county, and local law enforcement officers. These laws are intended to protect everyone in the United States, even if you are not a citizen.
Regardless of your age, ethnicity, citizenship, or gender it is a crime for anyone who is acting under the law (or under the “color of law,” as the government terms anyone using power given to him or her by a government agency to perform an act) to deprive or attempt to deprive a person of their protected Constitutional rights or laws. This type of misconduct includes excessive force in the form of police brutality.
If you believe that you were a victim of police brutality, there are some steps that you need to take right away to protect your rights.
7 Things You Need to Do if You Were a Victim of Police Brutality
Because this is such a serious issue, there are multiple laws, titles, and provisions covering police misconduct. The steps you will need to take to protect your rights will depend on which category your individual situation falls under, so it is important that you find an attorney to help you as quickly as possible.
However, there are seven things that you should do no matter what your circumstances are so that when you do file a lawsuit to protect your rights, you have everything ready to go.
- Collect as much evidence as possible. Before you leave the scene of the incident, try to find any videos or photos that may have been taken. There may be witnesses who documented the incident or security cameras in the area. This is always the best evidence possible.
However, if you don’t have live video or pictures, use your phone to take videos and pictures after the incident of the entire crime scene.
- Obtain contact information of any witnesses. Track down and get the contact information for anyone who may have witnessed any or all of the event. Many times these people are horrified at what they saw and want to help.
Be sure you get as much information as possible from them, including their name, phone number, address, and even email address.
- Keep all potential evidence in a safe place. Don’t destroy anything – save everything you were wearing and holding, and don’t wash anything. Put everything in a safe place and let your attorney determine what is and is not relevant.
- Get medical help quickly. This can be at a hospital, walk-in clinic, or physician’s office, but you need to try to go that day. Tell them what happened and be honest about your situation, medical history, and medications.
Discuss any symptoms that you are feeling, no matter how minor you think they are. Little things can turn into big things a few days or weeks later.
Be sure that you take pictures of any of your physical symptoms, such as bruises, cuts, scrapes, or swelling.
- Find an attorney to help you. As soon as you have taken care of your medical concerns, you absolutely must find a lawyer who specializes in police brutality, like those at Robenalt Law. You have no idea how serious your case may get and it may escalate quickly.
While you are trying to heal and recover from the shock of your trauma, the police department is likely actively building a case against you to defend themselves. Your situation will likely become part of the news and media spotlight, and you will need someone to guide you through each step and help you to protect your rights.
- Write everything down. Once you have a few minutes to yourself in a quiet area, take the time to write down everything you remember about what happened. This will be important down the road, as these types of cases can often take months or years to reach a final verdict.
Once you have written everything down, seal it and give it to your lawyer as confidential and do not show it to anyone else.
- Consider your personal presence. Although our social media is supposed to be where we display our preferences and personalities, there are many times when it can be our downfall. If your social media shows you doing questionable things, it can hurt you in court.
If you talk about your case on your social media or to your friends and what you say does not match what you are telling your attorney and testifying about in court, that will hurt you as well.
Instead, have a friend or someone you can trust go through your social media accounts with you and take out anything that may count against you. Do not talk about your case online at all, and if you discuss it with others be sure that it is someone you can trust and that your facts match what you have told your attorney.
You Must Follow the Law, But So Must the Law Enforcement Officers
If you were a victim of police brutality, it is not just you against the system. There are laws in place to protect you and to punish the perpetrators.
Contact an attorney that is an expert in this area as soon as possible, and be sure that you are doing everything possible to help your case stay strong. You are in the right; there is no need to pad your case with false information that may hurt you later.
Remember, time is important. While you are recovering, they are building their defense against you. Be sure you follow these seven steps as soon as possible, and contact an attorney today.