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Are You a Victim of Police Brutality? One Case Study

Like the rest of us, police officers can lose their cool. But what happens when they do? Mr. Miller, a client of Keffer Barnhart, suffered from abuse by a police officer who lost his cool and used excessive force against him. Here is his experience and case study.

Mr. Miller, who was driving through Richmond, made a mistake. He did not initially stop when police attempted to pull him over and took Richmond Police Department on a police chase. When the vehicle he was driving crashed, he exited the vehicle and put his hands into the air as the officers pursuing him approached. Mr. Miller was handcuffed and taken into custody by multiple officers.

Unfortunately, after Mr. Miller was handcuffed and no doubt while the officer was under the influence of adrenaline caused by the chase, that officer struck Mr. Miller in the head causing significant injuries to his face. Other officers who were present, did nothing to prevent their fellow officer’s excessive force or otherwise protect Mr. Miller from the abusive officer who lost control.

After the incident, officers conducted an investigation. While officers took various photographs of the scene and the crash, no photographs were taken of the injuries the officer inflicted upon Mr. Miller. Similarly, while officers created reports relating to Mr. Miller’s criminal activity, none of those reports referenced the excessive force used by police against Mr. Miller or the fact that an officer applied force after he was handcuffed and detained.

After he was released from custody, Mr. Miller filed a complaint with the Richmond Police Department. The Department admirably acknowledged that an internal affairs investigation had been done, and concluded that one of their officers violated department rules pertaining to use of force, handcuffed prisoners, and proper documentation through reports. That is, the Department appropriately acknowledged that what the officer had done to Mr. Miller was wrong.

While the police department acknowledged wrong-doing after Mr. Miller submitted a written complaint, Mr. Miller did not receive financial compensation for his injuries until after a federal lawsuit was filed against Richmond Police Department and its officers.

In that lawsuit, Mr. Miller alleged that the officer who struck him after he was handcuffed violated his constitutional rights. Mr. Miller also asserted that the others who were present failed to protect him from the abusive officer.

Not long after that lawsuit was filed, the Defendants agreed to have a judgment entered against them if Mr. Miller accepted a monetary award. The Defendants also agreed to pay attorney’s fees and costs associated with the lawsuit. The entry of civil judgment avoided the opportunity for Mr. Miller to present his case in front of a jury and have that jury determine whether his constitutional rights were violated and how much he should be compensated as a result. It is reasonable to infer that the police department’s willingness to have a judgment entered against them and their officers in order to preclude a civil jury trial is an acknowledgment and admission that they did in fact violate Mr. Miller’s constitutional rights.

Mr. Miller’s case in Richmond involving the Richmond Police Department is similar to a similar case in Evansville involving the Evansville Police Department. See https://www.kefferbarnhart.com/blog/2018/april/civil-judgment-entered-against-evansville-police/. Like Richmond, the Evansville Police Department agreed to enter into a judgment and avoid a jury trial for excessive force that was captured both on body cameras as well as a cell phone camera.

If you believe your civil rights were violated, contact the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP today. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized history. Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.