Excessive Force by Police
Police officers can use force to do their job, but the amount of force used must be reasonable under the circumstances. If an officer uses excessive force, the officer and the officer’s employer can be sued. The officer may even be criminally prosecuted.
If a case goes to trial, jurors must judge the reasonableness of the force used from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene. A variety of factors can be considered, including whether there were alternatives to the force used.
If you or someone you know may have been the victim of excessive force by police, it is important you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
For the past ten years in Washington state, police officers shot and killed, on average, 21 people a year. If an officer acts unreasonably in using deadly force, the officer could be charged with murder or another crime.
Even if an officer is not prosecuted criminally for using deadly force, the officer may be sued civilly. The burden of proof for a civil lawsuit is much lower than for a criminal prosecution. Criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil cases only require proof that the allegations are more likely true than not.
Washington state voters approved Initiative 940 in November of 2018. Governor Jay Inslee signed it into law in February of 2019. The new law eliminated the need to prove “malice” in a criminal prosecution of an officer for using deadly force. Additionally, it required officers to attend training on de-escalation techniques, mental health issues, and first-aid.
Under the current law, the legal question is whether a reasonable officer would have used deadly force under the circumstances. This makes it easier for prosecutors to prove a case.
While the law did not change the standard of proof in civil cases, increased accountability in criminal cases could strengthen civil cases.
Washington State Attorneys on Excessive Force
At Herrmann Law Group, we believe in holding officers accountable for their actions and governments accountable for their training. Police should serve and protect.
If you or someone you know was injured or killed by a police officer, it is critical to seek legal counsel. Do not wait for the criminal prosecution. There may not be one. You need experienced attorneys who understand the law and are on your side.
Charles Herrmann successfully represented the parents of Antonio Zambrano Montes who was shot and killed by police officers in Pasco, Washington. As the elected Pierce County Prosecutor, Mark Lindquist reviewed and made decisions on more than 50 officer-involved shootings where deadly force was used. He knows the law and understands the significance of the surrounding circumstances.
Our attorneys are on your side. We care about you. We will fight for you. If you or someone you know was the victim of excessive force by a police officer, call Herrmann Law Group as soon as possible for a free legal consultation.
Call (206) 625-9104 to speak to an attorney or complete this form and we will contact you within 24 hours.