man being wrongfully arrested by law enforcement

Law Enforcement and Your Civil Rights

Police brutality and wrongful convictions

If you have been subjected to excessive force by police or wrongfully convicted, under some circumstances you may have a lawsuit. If actions by police officers or their employers violate the rights of a private citizen, those actions can create liability.  

These claims tend to be complex and fiercely contested, so it is important to seek counsel from a civil rights lawyer soon after the event.  

Actions by police including sexual assault, shootings, the use of clubs or tasers, the use of pepper spray that causes burns on the skin or eyes, and the use of racial slurs or epithets may be police brutality. The courts recognize that sometimes a use of force is necessary to protect a police officer's safety or the safety of bystanders, but in other cases, law enforcement officers may abuse their authority and cause serious injuries to a suspect or witness. Police officers should not consider themselves above the law and are not entitled to abuse others as part of their job. 

There are also, unfortunately, cases where individuals have been wrongly convicted after the police or prosecutors withheld important evidence that tended to show the innocence of a person who was on trial, and that person ended up being wrongly convicted. Conybeare Law Office attorneys have represented individuals who were wrongly convicted and incarcerated.  We have recouped significant damages for them using both Michigan’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, and in federal court.  

Seeking compensation for police brutality and wrongful conviction

Many police brutality and wrongful conviction claims may be brought in federal court under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. Section 1983 allows people to sue government officials, such as police officers, for a deprivation of a constitutional right or a right provided by federal statute. Government officials may be protected by qualified immunity, but if a reasonable officer would have known that their conduct was unlawful in a particular situation, it may be possible to overcome this hurdle in court. Our attorneys can help hold not only the individual officer responsible but also governments or agencies if they had enough personal involvement in a violation, allowed the violation due to gross negligence, or created a policy that allowed the violation.

A successful action against a law enforcement officer or other official under Section 1983 may entitle you to compensatory damages, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. You may also be able to recover punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence or actions that were malicious. 

When to consider talking to a lawyer

Here are some situations that should prompt you to consider getting legal help:

  • You or a loved one have been wrongly convicted and there may be evidence of your innocence.
  • You or a loved one were injured by police.
  • You have video or photos of injuries caused by police.