The police use excessive force when arresting you. You don’t know why. You’re trying to cooperate, but one officer assaults you anyway. You suffer serious injuries during the arrest.

However, it’s not just one officer at the scene. There is another officer who doesn’t do anything to harm you, but who also doesn’t do anything to stop the use of excessive force. They just stand by and watch as you plead for it to end.

Is that also illegal? They didn’t contribute to the assault directly, but they were the only person who could have stopped it, and they did nothing. If the police are supposed to protect and serve the public, do they have an obligation to act when another officer steps out of line?

They do. An officer who has a chance to stop another from using this type of dangerous, excessive force and who does not prevent the assault “may also be liable.” If you take legal action against the department and the officer who assaulted you, you may also be able to take action against anyone who knew what was happening and did not make a reasonable effort to stop it.

After all, the police are not above the law. An assault is still an assault. Just because the officer is making an arrest does not mean he or she has a right to do anything at all to you in the process. Police have to be held to high standards.

So, if you find yourself in this situation, make sure you know what legal steps to take. It can feel daunting and overwhelming, but the law is on your side.