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How much force are the police supposed to use?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2021 | Firm News

If you cooperate with the police during an arrest, you expect that there will be no use of unjustifiable force. However, it may not be the case, and you might find yourself nursing physical injuries from a simple arrest, a classic case of police brutality.

Understandably, law enforcement requires the use of force in some cases, but how much is too much? While there is no definitive answer, the police are required to use reasonable force depending on the situation. For instance, if you are not resisting arrest, then there may be no need to, say, put you in a chokehold.

Reasonable vs. unreasonable force

A landmark case in which a teenager was fatally shot while escaping from a house he was suspected of having burglarized brought to life the debate between reasonable and unreasonable use of force by law enforcement. Generally, the use of force by the police should be informed by three things:

  • Necessity – Is it necessary to use force to achieve the intended result?
  • Proportionality – Is the force commensurate with the actions of the offender?
  • Precaution – Is the use of force meant to ensure the safety of the police or members of the public?

Holding the police accountable

If you are a victim of police brutality, it is important to take action and get justice. Given that it violates your civil rights, you can turn to the courts for legal redress. 

However, it is important to note that police have qualified immunity from prosecution as long as their actions are within the law. It means that there is a thin line between what can be deemed reasonable or unreasonable use of force depending on the side you are looking at it from. Therefore, it is advisable to navigate your case with the necessary knowledge of what the law says regarding such use of force.