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2 decisions about the use of force police officers may get wrong

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Civil Rights

Police officers sometimes have to make decisions about using force to protect themselves and the general public. Unfortunately, they don’t always reach the right conclusion, especially after years of work have left them jaded or traumatized. Police officers can make decisions that violate someone’s civil rights.

The inappropriate use of police force can lead to severe physical injuries and also psychological trauma. There are two common mistakes associated with police force that could lead to a violation of someone’s civil rights.

When the use of force is appropriate

Police officers in New Mexico receive extensive training on when to use force and the best method to do so. Still, in the heat of the moment, police officers might jump to the wrong conclusion. They might assume because of someone’s race or other personal characteristics that they pose a threat without any real justification for that assumption. They might then use force in a scenario that does not warrant any type of physical aggression. They could become violent towards someone who was compliant and who did not pose any credible threat toward them or members of the public. Using force in inappropriate situations can be a violation of someone’s civil rights.

How much force is necessary

As a general rule, police officers should limit the force they employ during an encounter to the least amount of force necessary to subdue someone and prevent them from harming other people. Officers might need to physically restrain someone, but that doesn’t mean that the use of lethal force is appropriate. Officers have to evaluate a situation to determine how much force is necessary. Errors in judgment could lead to someone suffering severe or even fatal injuries when there was very little need for the encounter to become so aggressive.

Those injured due to inappropriate police conduct may sometimes have grounds to take legal action. Civil lawsuits can be an appropriate response to a violation of one’s civil rights, including the excessive and inappropriate use of force during an interaction with law enforcement professionals. Speaking with an attorney about a situation that spiraled out of control could help someone determine whether they have grounds to take legal action.