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Deliberate indifference and law enforcement

There are many stories in the news detailing misconduct by police where officers of the law overstep the bounds of their authority. Some stand accused of using excessive force to apprehend and subdue suspects. In many cases, these suspects are people of color -- although, not always. A spate of video and audio recordings depicting some of these alleged overreaches of authority have captured the public interest in recent years. This has resulted in increased scrutiny of police tactics and a focus on the individuals who often end up on the receiving end of such abuses of power.

While active abuses of police powers may make for a good viral video, officers of the law also must avoid abusing suspects through deliberate indifference. If a suspect receives harm due to deliberate indifference, this is just as serious a violation of the suspect's Eighth Amendment rights as other forms of cruel and unusual punishment.

If you believe that you suffered harm because of the deliberate indifference of a government official, you should look very closely at the details of your experience. If you were harmed, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the offending party. In some cases, if the offending party is an officer who arrested you, then you may have grounds to dismiss charges pressed against you.

What is deliberate indifference?

In some cases, the inaction of a government official is just as damaging as improper actions by a government official. A common example of such a violation is when a police officer sees that a suspect requires medical attention and does not seek or provide that medical attention, or take other actions to sustain the suspect until needed help arrives.

In order to prove deliberate indifference, the plaintiff must show that:

  • The offending party knew of the danger to the suspect, or that the suspect suffered some harm
  • The offending party did not properly address the situation
  • The inaction of the offending party resulted in harm or further injury to the plaintiff

As you consider your own experience, the details are vital. Make special efforts to identify all the recorded evidence or documentation that you can find of your interactions as well as detailing in writing your own version of the adverse events.

You may also want to find other witnesses to the interaction and see if they are willing to go on the record with their observations.

Build a strong defense, no matter what charges you face

Even if deliberate indifference is not a viable legal defense in your case, it is always important to build your legal defense as quickly and effectively as you can, beginning the day that you are charged. The longer you wait to do so, the greater the likelihood that you may encounter complications that could ultimately cost you dearly. A proper defense is the only way to ensure that your rights and privileges remain secure as you fight your charges.

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