In April, Minnesota law enforcement spotted a vehicle speeding through Roseville. According to My Fox Twin Cities, when they attempted to pull over the car, the driver jumped out and started running. A video shows that an officer gave chase. Moments later, a passenger in the car started to exit the vehicle. The officer who took off after the driver returned to the scene and threw the passenger to the ground.
The passenger did not speak English. The officer used his Taser on the man three times, and soon afterward three other members of law enforcement arrived on the scene and began punching and kicking the man, who lay moaning on the ground. The man is now taking the officers to court, claiming they used excessive force. Unfortunately, here in Minnesota and across the country, situations like this are all too common.
Defining police brutality
In the past year, at least four other incidents of excessive police force have been documented and splashed on national media outlets. Many people have seen the videos depicting the beating of a woman on the side of a California freeway, and a man in New York who was placed in a chokehold and died. These incidents have left people questioning whether some law enforcement officers are taking their authority too far.
The U.S. Constitution grants every citizen protection from cruel punishment. While there is no set law defining exactly what constitutes police brutality, it is generally defined as using more force than necessary in a situation. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, courts should seek to determine if the force was improper; in other words, was there either no justification for the amount of force used, or was there more force than necessary? There are five basic components of force law enforcement may use, and those are the following:
- Physical – Using their bodies to restrain someone.
- Chemical – Using a substance such as pepper spray
- Electronic – Using a Taser or other electronic device
- Impact – Using a force such as a vehicle to block or impede a suspect’s vehicle
- Firearm – Using a gun or other weapon during an arrest
The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that roughly 1 percent of Americans have experienced such an encounter with law enforcement. What’s more, research shows that excessive force is often motivated by racial or religious discrimination, as minorities account for the majority of cases.
No matter the case, a badge does not give law enforcement the right to use brutal measures or excessive force on anyone. Anyone with questions regarding police brutality with or without an arrest should contact a defense attorney.