Back To CourseCriminal Justice Overview
21 chapters | 196 lessons
I have taught honors English in high school, have an BA in Political Science and English, Master's in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, and completing my PhD in Public Administration & Policy with a concentration in Law & Public Policy
While at work, you notice that your cell phone is vibrating profusely with notification updates from Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter. ''What is going on?'' you ask yourself. You begin scrolling and realize that there has been yet another case of police brutality in the United States. A young minority male was shot 7 times and died on site.
This is what happened when the victim informed the police officer that he was armed with a registered handgun, but Philando Castile was only reaching for his ID to show the officer. There are some laws established to protect citizens from police brutality, while some are more geared towards protecting the police. In this lesson, you will learn how police brutality is defined, laws that were created to detour the act, and cases that reflect how some of the laws were enacted.
Police brutality is defined as the excessive use of physical force or violence towards someone by law enforcement or inflicting unwarranted harm on someone by law enforcement. Police brutality has occurred since the beginning of the creation of law enforcement. This has been due to poor training, overt or implicit racism in society and the type of the people police departments attract to work as police officers.
Technology (in terms of the smartphone) has allowed the live streaming of events via numerous social media avenues. Citizens now have the ability to show that police brutality does exist and is no longer hidden. All citizens now have the opportunity to show the world how they live with police brutality. It begs the question, ''What laws can protect me? What laws can make police brutality stop?'' In the next section, you will learn about several laws that can make law enforcement officials accountable for police brutality.
There are several federal laws that can protect American citizens from police brutality or assist citizens in filing suits against law enforcement if such acts have occurred.
Title 18 of the United States Code makes it illegal for law enforcement to intentionally keep or conspire to keep citizens from expressing or invoking any of their rights that are protected by the Constitution or United States law. Title 18 of the United States Code can be applied to many forms of police brutality, including but not limited to intimidation, excessive lethal force, sexual assaults, excessive physical force, and the use of pepper spray in an improper manner. Under Title 18, the law, however, does not allow for citizens to file civil suits against police for financial motives.
Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act is another law that helps citizens who have faced police brutality. Under Title 6, the statute states that it is illegal for local and state law enforcement officers to discriminate against citizens based on their ethnicity, nationality, gender, and/or religious affiliation.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) created legal protections against police brutality and/or police discrimination for individuals with disabilities. The ADA generally could be applied to situations in which racial slurs, unjustified detainment, the use of excessive force, and/or racial profiling occurred towards individuals who have some form of a disability. Under the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals who have suffered effects from police brutality or experienced police brutality can, however, file civil lawsuits.
Regarding police brutality, laws, regulations, and stipulations define what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in applying physical force. These rulings are normally determined by county, city, and state courts. This not only confuses matters by creating inconsistencies when adjudicating cases, but it also doesn't allow for a case precedent to be established either in the city, county or state judicial system.
The use of chokeholds, as a type of physical restraint, was banned in 1993 by New York City. However, the method was not banned in the state of New York. Even though law enforcement officers are legally bound to adhere to the guidelines of their department (ex. chokeholds are banned), chokeholds were still consistently being used in cases of police brutality brought to court.
Convictions rarely occurred because the legal system modified how chokeholds were defined in the court of law. The courts defined a ''headlock'' as moving closer towards a person from behind and choking the person with an arm: this method is completely acceptable. However, when an officer applies consistent pressure to a person's neck, causing the loss of consciousness; then the headlock becomes a ''chokehold '' and is illegal).
When the courts creates leeway in the form of stipulations for judicial interpretations of physical acts, it shows the public two things about how the judicial system treats police brutality: law enforcement has a major influence on the laws that guide their own use and definitions of force; and law enforcement has a very close relationship with the judicial system which creates the potential for abuse of that system.
Police brutality has been in existence as long as law enforcement has existed. Police brutality is defined as the excessive use of physical force towards an individual by law enforcement. It occurs due to lack of training, lack of morals, hostile societal times, racial tensions, and many other factors. Where police brutality takes place ( in city, county or state jurisdictions) determines how it is defined under the law and how case precedents used to help determine rulings. There are several laws that can help aid citizens when they are affected by police brutality either directly (ex. a victim of police brutality) or indirectly (ex. witnessed police brutality). Title 18 of the United States' Code, Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act statute are the major federal laws that can help victims of police brutality.
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Back To CourseCriminal Justice Overview
21 chapters | 196 lessons
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