The U.S. Constitution protects against unlawful search procedures, harassment and discrimination. When law enforcement officials violate an individual’s civil rights, a legal action may hold them accountable. It may also provide compensation for physical and emotional injuries.
As reported by ABC News, misconduct lawsuits filed across the U.S. resulted in claims of more than $300 million in 2019. In New York City alone, residents received civil lawsuit claims totaling over $175 million. While these amounts may appear high, the emotional injuries — including severe post-traumatic stress disorder — may remain for an individual’s lifetime.
Examples of misconduct that may violate civil rights
Police misconduct may show as physical evidence and include scratches, bruises or broken bones. This may result in cases where officers use excessive physical force when placing an individual under arrest. Misconduct, however, may not always leave visible marks. It may also display as lingering emotional trauma.
Mockery, humiliation or painfully derogatory words regarding an individual’s race, gender or sexual orientation may leave long-term emotional scars. Officers engaging in harassment while making a lawful arrest have at times overstepped constitutional boundaries. This may lead to a legal action.
New York City resident claims police harassment and receives $30K settlement
A New York City transgender resident filed a lawsuit against the city claiming NYPD officers ridiculed her during her detainment. The misconduct began after officials arrested her for walking through a Bronx park on her way home after hours. As reported by the New York Daily News, her lawsuit claimed they placed her in pink handcuffs, continually taunted her and locked her in a cell while she remained in restraints.
As a result of the suit, the city agreed to a $30,000 settlement. The precinct involved in the lawsuit has also agreed to provide training for its officers to help prevent future issues.