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Supreme Court Holds Objective Standard Should Be Applied to Determine Whether Force Used by Police Was Excessive

The media has been abuzz lately regarding the topic of police use of excessive force against citizens. A recent ruling of the Supreme Court held that excessive force claims exerted by pretrial detainees should be analyzed using an objective standard to determine whether the force used was reasonable under the circumstances.

The case concerned an inmate who was incarcerated on a drug charge and awaiting trial. When the inmate refused to remove a piece of paper from the light fixture inside his cell, he was ultimately brought to another cell, handcuffed, and then tasered by corrections officers. The inmate brought an excessive force claim to court, where the jury found for the officers. However, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling, holding that the instructions given to the jury applied a subjective standard, which was an error.

The Court held that four factors should be taken into consideration to determine whether the force used by police officers toward a citizen was objectively reasonable:

• Whether a relationship existed regarding the need for the use of force and the amount of force that was used

• How extensive the plaintiff's injuries were

• Whether the police officer took measures to limit the use of the force

• Whether the person to whom the force was directed was actively resisting

In addition to applying an objective standard to determine whether the use of force was excessive against a defendant, the standard also protects officers who acted in good faith. For example, if an inmate were injured accidentally by an officer, they likely would not be able to prevail in an excessive force claim.

Click here to read the Supreme Court decision.

If you have suffered injuries due to police use of excessive force, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your rights and legal options. The attorneys at Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss have helped clients obtain the compensation they deserve for instances of police misconduct. As there is a statute of limitations on such claims, it is important to act as quickly as possible. Call the police misconduct attorneys at Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP at (212) 571-7171 today.

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