When most people hear the term “police misconduct,” today they might think of national news events that have shed light on the unscrupulous activities of police officers. The deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland, in particular, may come to mind, and many others have been beaten and injured at the hands of law enforcement. However, the issue of misconduct actually goes far beyond the use of excessive physical force. Misconduct can also be verbal rather than a physical issue.
Above all, citizens should know their legal rights when it comes to interacting with officers. If you don’t know your rights with police, make sure you understand that these three issues count as misconduct for members of law enforcement:
- Verbal harassment and intimidation: In addition to physical harassment, verbal intimidation is a serious issue, as well. This may occur along with the use of excessive force or on its own. This form of police misconduct is fairly common and may push civilians into giving a false confession or being arrested based on racial profiling, which is another type of misconduct.
- Being wrongly accused of a crime: A false arrest, even one resulting from false evidence or a false confession, is a form of misconduct. People who are wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit, even if they were forced into confessing to them, are innocent under the law.
- Evidence and witness tampering: Have you recorded an interaction with a police officer on your cell phone, only to have the evidence seized or deleted? If so, that officer may have tampered with evidence in an investigation, which is a serious offense. Another type of tampering that may take place is witness tampering, where witnesses to an incident may be intimidated into either altering their testimony or not making it at all.
What should you do if you are ever the victim of one of these types of misconduct? Staying calm in these situations may be difficult, but it can help you later on. Have more questions about police misconduct or brutality? Make sure you speak to a lawyer. A prison abuse or excessive force attorney can also advise you on these legal issues, even if you weren’t a victim of any physical harassment. This article only covers general legal information, so if you have any specific questions or concerns, be sure to contact an attorney.