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What counts as excessive force by police?

Police have the right to use their own discretion to some extent when making an arrest. For example, if a person tries to resist an arrest, they can use force to ensure that the person does not get away. The perceived risk of the situation should influence the amount of force used. A suspect with a weapon or with a perceived malicious intent will likely be subject to a much higher amount of force than someone who has been suspected of committing a petty crime, for example.

Law enforcement officials should avoid using excessive force or unreasonable force. In the media, there have been several high-profile cases in recent years, highlighting the seriousness of excessive force and police brutality. If you believe that you or a loved one has become victim to excessive force by police, it is important to understand how the law defines the act, and learn what you can do to get justice.

How should force be used by police?

Police have the duty to use the minimum amount of force required to ensure that the suspect is successfully restrained. The are five graduated methods that police officers should use to try and diffuse a situation.

First, officers should try to diffuse a situation by merely being present. If this does not have the desired result, police can start making requests and orders. For example, they may order a suspected drunk driver to stand by their vehicle with their hands against the car.

If the suspect does not respond to orders, police officers should then use physical force to restrain the suspect. If there is clear resistance or aggression, less lethal methods can be introduced. If these fail to get the situation under control, lethal force may be used in certain extreme cases where the suspect presents a significant threat.

Showing that the police acted unreasonably

If you can show that the police did not follow these graduated methods and instead used unnecessary force to restrain you, it will be possible to take legal action.

It's important that you understand the specific barriers in place that could prevent you from being successful in making a police brutality claim. You should never let these barriers be a reason to prevent you from taking action to get justice, however.

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