Police officers can routinely be in situations that involve stress and elevated levels of anxiety. An officer can go from a quiet and serene day to responding to a call where citizens confront them in an aggressive manner. However, no matter the situation, it is expected that a police officer responds professionally while enforcing the law and making arrests.
Unfortunately, there are times when police behavior comes into question. When a situation becomes overwhelming or if the officer feels they are losing control of a situation, instances of abuse of power or violating someone’s rights can occur. If you are wondering what exactly constitutes police misconduct, here are some common actions that may be put into question.
Physical assault – The police can use physical force when attempting to apprehend a suspect, however, it comes down to the situation the officer was in at the time of the assault complaint. There may be times the use of excessive force was justified to detain a suspect, however, other times an officer may be over too aggressive and letting out frustration in the form of physical violence on the victim.
Sexual misconduct – Sexual misconduct does not have any vagueness to it like physical misconduct does. If a police officer engages in any type of contact or sexual act with someone in their custody, they are breaking the law. Every person is protected from a violation against their will from sexual assault and an officer can be held accountable for these actions.
Ignoring a serious medical problem – If an officer notices someone in dire need of medical attention, they are not allowed to act with deliberate indifference to what they are encountering. This can happen as a form of punishment to the victim or as a way to obtain critical evidence by trading information for medical care.
Refusing to intervene – If one officer is observing another officer violate a victim’s rights, both officers can be held accountable by law for their actions. This type of misconduct can be common as a police officer may refrain from interfering with the actions of a fellow officer, especially if they are outranked or the offending officer has seniority.
Police officers have a duty to treat every citizen fairly, no matter if they just viewed a suspect commit a criminal act or because of a person’s race, religion or origin. If you feel like your rights have been violated by a police officer or that you have been the victim of police misconduct, you should speak with an attorney who specializes in fighting for victims of police violence.