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How Do You File a Claim for False Arrest and Excessive Force in New York City?

Last updated on: August 25, 2023

By Lebedin Kofman LLP

If you have been the victim of false arrest or malicious prosecution by a police officer, you may be entitled to compensation. At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our New York civil rights lawyers have extensive experience handling these cases. We can get you the justice and compensation you deserve. Call us at (646) 663-4430 to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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Our client, a photographer attended a BLM protest in Manhattan to take pictures of the event. As soon as the police came, they became extremely aggressive with the crowd and moved toward them. Our client was tackled by multiple police officers just for standing and taking pictures. One of the police officers took our client’s head and smashed it into the pavement causing him to lose consciousness. When he regained consciousness he was laying in a police van and was handcuffed. He was arrested and taken to the precinct with a simple bandage on his bloody head with many others from the protest instead of being taken to the hospital. After he was released from the precinct he rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion as well as a torn labrum in his shoulder from the tackle. He attended physical therapy to treat the labrum and was forced to take a number of medications to treat the reoccurring migraines he has from the head injury. He was also diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD due to the incident and goes to therapy to address it. The New York District Attorney dismissed the criminal charges against him without him ever appearing in court.

We immediately filed a claim against New York City for false arrest and excessive force. The City agreed to a pre-litigation settlement conference to discuss a resolution to this matter almost immediately. The City agreed to settle the matter for $185,000 before a lawsuit was even filed to compensate our client for the few hours that he was arrested and for the serious injuries caused due to excessive force by the police officers.

What Does False Arrest Mean?

Only the following situations may lead to a police officer arresting a suspect:

  • If they are issued an arrest warrant
  • If they have probable cause to arrest the person
New York civil rights attorney

The New York City Police Department website defines probable cause as “sufficient reason” based on known facts that a criminal act has occurred or that certain properties are connected to a crime. In the United States Constitution’s fourth amendment, the concept of probable cause was established. Your constitutional rights are violated if you are arrested without probable cause.

False arrest refers to arresting or imprisoning someone without a warrant. This is an extremely distressing experience. False arrest victims experience mental anguish and emotional distress. They also suffer from loss of reputation, lost job, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological disorders, as well as negative effects on their family relationships. The community is also affected by police brutality, which creates fear and distrust in the police.

What Does It Mean To Use Excessive Force?

Excessive force is when police use more force to arrest or question an individual. These are some examples:

  • Kicking, hitting or beating
  • Chokeholds
  • Use of pepper spray, guns, or tasers in an unwarranted manner is not permitted
  • Refusal to seek medical attention
  • Searches that are unreasonable
  • Without cause, detention

As necessary, police officers can use controlled force to protect the public or personal safety and detain suspects who are violent. Non-combative people should not be subject to force.

The Possibility of Suing a Police Officer for Wrongful Arrest

If a law enforcement officer has wrongfully arrested you, you are likely familiar with the humiliation and distress it can cause. Nonetheless, you have legal rights that may enable you to bring a lawsuit against the arresting officer for a false arrest.

In order to establish that a law enforcement officer has infringed upon your civil rights, it is necessary to provide evidence indicating that the officer acted with deliberate ill will or demonstrated an unconcerned disregard for your rights. Malice means that the officer intentionally violated your rights, while reckless indifference suggests that the officer was careless or indifferent to their actions’ consequences. While difficult to establish, this evidence may provide grounds for a lawsuit.

Proving your case can be difficult if the law enforcement officer has probable cause to apprehend you. It’s important to consider probable cause when pursuing a lawsuit for civil rights violations against a police officer. Probable cause means the officer had a reason to believe that you may have committed a crime.  Hence, proving that the officer lacked valid reasons to arrest you is necessary.

If you intend to take legal action for civil rights violations, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations. The specific time limit varies by state, but in New York, you have a three-year window to file your claim. Failure to file within the designated period may hinder your ability to obtain compensation.

It’s important to note that civil rights violations are significant charges. To build a strong case, it is essential to have adequate evidence, such as documentation or other proof, to support your claim. It is important to speak with a lawyer. 

Contact Lebedin Kofman LLP to speak with an attorney. Our team of experienced New York City civil rights attorneys is well-equipped to develop a comprehensive legal approach that suits the unique circumstances of your case. If you are thinking about taking legal action against an NYC police officer for false arrest, it is advisable to get in touch with our experienced New York City civil rights attorneys. You may contact us at (646) 663-4430 to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Possibility of Suing a Police Officer for Wrongful Arrest Details
Grounds for Lawsuit Lawsuit against arresting officer possible for false arrest; evidence needed for deliberate ill will or reckless indifference.
Establishing Malice and Reckless Indifference Officer must intentionally violate rights (malice) or act carelessly and indifferent to consequences (reckless indifference).
Consideration of Probable Cause Lawsuit can be challenging if officer had probable cause for arrest; proving lack of valid reasons is crucial.
Statute of Limitations Be aware of state-specific time limit to file claim; in New York, three-year window to file for civil rights violations.
Importance of Adequate Evidence Strong case requires documentation or proof supporting claim; consulting a lawyer is essential for building a case.

False Arrest Lawsuit

Individuals frequently claim that a law enforcement officer who carried out an arrest while acting on behalf of the government and under the authority of “color of state law” did so without proper justification, leading to an infringement on the individual’s civil rights. In such situations, it is possible to initiate a legal action for a false arrest against both the officer and the police department, alleging violations of the individual’s civil rights. These instances typically fall under Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1983.

When a complaint refers to Section 1983, legal representatives commonly argue that their clients’ rights protected by the Fourth Amendment were violated. This amendment safeguards citizens from any type of unreasonable searches and seizures of any kind.

If one decides to file a lawsuit against the police, the case will progress through various key stages until a resolution is reached. These stages include filing initial statements, the process of gathering evidence, presenting legal motions, engaging in negotiations for potential settlements, and ultimately proceeding to a trial.

Furthermore, certain cases might be categorized as personal injury or civil tort, with the focus being on claims of either false arrest or false imprisonment.

If you or a loved one have been unjustly detained or wrongfully arrested, navigating the legal complexities can be daunting. At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our New York civil rights lawyers are dedicated to seeking justice for those whose rights have been violated. We understand the distress false arrests can cause and are committed to vigorously advocating for your rights. Contact us at (646) 663-4430 schedule a consultation and take the first step towards asserting your rights and protecting your best interests.

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