Malman Law
Legal News

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Police Corruption and Misconduct

Police Corruption and Misconduct Suits Settle for Millions

Police corruption and misconduct is certainly not the norm in a profession that is truly the definition of public service. Most police officers are ethically sound and work to uphold the law, rather than use their powerful position to subjugate and injure the innocent individuals they are sworn to protect. However, there are always rogues in law enforcement who see themselves as above the law, and those who go too far in their efforts to bring citizens under control.

Not only is any kind of violence inflicted by any person wrongful and illegal, but police corruption and misconduct is a violation of Section 1983 of the Federal Civil Rights Act. Section 1983 protects individuals by allowing them to sue state actors in state or federal courts for such civil rights violations.

A recent news article from NBC Chicago tells the story of a pattern of abuse by a certain rogue group of officers in Chicago. The article discovered that a highly experienced tactical officer, who was involved in a 2006 altercation with a Water Department employee, is a member of a small group of officers who have been repeatedly accused of police brutality and misconduct. In fact, the city has been forced to pay millions of tax dollars to settle claims against them.

According to the story, in 2006 an individual working for the Water Department was sent to leave a notice of unpaid bills to a resident on Chicago’s south side and was subsequently assaulted by that resident, who happened to be a lieutenant in Chicago’s Police Department. The Water Department employee called 911, and when police arrived, they proceeded to place the employee under arrest rather than the resident. The shocked Water Department employee asked, ”’Why are you putting me in the car and not (the aggressor)?’ They said, ‘Because he’s our boss. He’s a lieutenant.’ I said, ‘He’s off-duty, though.’ They said, ‘He’s never off-duty.'”

The employee was booked and charged with battery, but the case went to Criminal Court, where the judge found him not guilty. He even admonished the officer, saying: “Lieutenant, there is a lot I can say this morning, but I’m going to hold my tongue. The State has failed to meet its burden. The next time you pick somebody to come in here as a witness, make sure they lie a little better.”

Despite the verdict, an accompanying complaint filed by the employee was not sustained, which means that the police department’s Office of Professional Standards determined there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the police officer. According to the article, “(The employee) also filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Chicago, (the lieutenant), and others, alleging that (the lieutenant) had falsely arrested him to cover up his beating. In that case, the city admitted no wrongdoing, but did eventually pay (the employee) $99,999.00 to settle the case.”

A report from another article was able to uncover some names of these “repeaters” by digging through more than four hundred lawsuits over the past decade. The report found that the city paid out more than $45 million in the three years, from 2009 through 2011, for all settlements and judgments involving police corruption and misconduct. This is a hefty amount of money, especially for just 3 years in one city!

Police corruption and misconduct can include excessive physical force, physical assault, verbal abuse, violent threats, false arrests, sexual abuse or assault, intimidation, racial profiling, or other kinds of discrimination by police officers, prison guards, and law enforcement officers or officials. The psychological and emotional trauma that comes from this type of brutality can be severe, especially as law enforcement officers are entrusted with protecting people, not violating or abusing them.

Violence caused by police brutality can lead to serious personal injury, including wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been a victim of police corruption and misconduct, request a Free Police Brutality and Civil Rights Violations Case Evaluation today.


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