The vast majority of law enforcement officials in this nation carry out their highly challenging duties in a way that respects their communities and complies with the law. However, there are instances where this isn't the case.

Police brutality is something that has plagued The United States for far too long. Police brutality is an appalling illustration of the legacy of racism in America, a system that unfairly privileges some people over others based on their skin color and leeches the power of the whole community via the waste of human resources. No person should suffer unfair treatment at the hands of police officers, especially when their purpose is to serve and protect you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I consult an attorney before answering any questions?

A: Yes. Whether or not the police inform you of your constitutional right to do so, you have the right to consult with a lawyer before answering any inquiries. Your rights are to be protected by the attorney. Police should refrain from questioning you once you indicate that you want to speak with a lawyer..

Q: Can I Sue the Police Department for Violating My Rights?

A: Yes, you have rights as a citizen in the United States that must be protected under state laws as well as the Constitution.

Q: What steps should be taken after a police misconduct/brutality experience?

A: Contact your civil rights attorney immediately. If you are facing criminal charges, wait to speak until you have spoken with a criminal defense lawyer.

Q: What Constitutes Police Brutality?

A: Police brutality is any use of force by a police officer against a civilian when there is no basis for doing so. 

Causes of Police Brutality

In the United States, police brutality is a significant issue. Unfortunately, there are many reasons for this, and because so few officers have been held accountable, the reasons have not been sufficiently addressed.

The reasons and problems that contribute to the occurrence of police brutality are diverse, complicated, and oftentimes not fully understood. Inadequate training and a lack of accountability are two issues we observe that support a culture of police misbehavior along with the overall stress of the job.

Inadequate Institutionalized Training

To guarantee that police are focused on safe detention and that they only apply the minimum amount of force necessary, law enforcement must make sure that training procedures are regularly updated. Many police officers will continue to reference out-dated training or old ways of thinking, which leads to the numerous examples of police brutality that occur today. If proper training and constant improvement are not provided, then these situations can and will continue to occur.

Lack of Accountability and Prosecution

In almost 99 percent of situations involving police killings, the officer is not charged or brought to justice. A 99 percent justification rate for fatally shooting a member of the public raises valid concerns about whether officers are being held accountable, even when many shootings are justified.

It's essential that officers who commit crimes face the consequences of their behavior. Our constitutional rights to be free from arbitrary uses of force are equally as vital as the legal deference that police officers are entitled to and do receive when they use force. Only when cops who use excessive force in violation of the Constitution are held accountable, will this crucial balance be preserved. 

Overall Stress of the Job

Acts of police brutality can occasionally be brought on by job stress. In a stressful circumstance, a law enforcement officer or agency as a whole may act erratically if they believe that the public is hostile to their work or unsympathetic at best. Police officers should generally avoid isolating themselves and should have someone they can confide in about the difficulties of their work.

Examples of Police Brutality and Misconduct

George Floyd

The death of George Floyd is one of the most recent and well-known instances of police brutality. Through video evidence and eyewitness accounts, we are aware that Mr. Floyd was pinned beneath three police officers while pleading for his life. 

The officers who were involved in this case were charged with numerous offenses, including second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and ultimately were terminated from the police force.

Philando Castile

July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was traveling through Falcon Heights, Minnesota, in his car with his girlfriend and children. A traffic stop was initiated by officer Jeronimo Yanez.

Mr. Castile told the officer he had a lawful gun in the vehicle. While telling the police, he was reaching for his identity; officer Yanez shot Mr. Castile seven times in the car as he sought for his identification, resulting in Mr. Castile’s death. 

Officer Yanez was acquitted on charges of manslaughter. Afterwhich, wrongful death lawsuits against the city brought by Reynolds and Castile's family were settled for a total of $3.8 million.

Rachelle Jackson Case

On November 19, 2002, Ms. Jackson witnessed a car crash; she sprinted to the flaming vehicle and saved one of the two Chicago police officers. When additional officers arrived, she was assisting the hurt officer. The injured officer's weapon was allegedly stolen by Ms. Jackson, according to the officers.

Following her arrest, Ms. Jackson spent ten months incarcerated. She was repeatedly threatened during that period and forced to write a statement.

As soon as the matter went to trial, the judge dismissed it. Ms. Jackson filed a lawsuit against the police and the city of Chicago for unlawful arrest, coercive questioning, and malicious prosecution. She received a $7.7 million payout.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of police brutality or know someone who has been a victim of police brutality, please contact The Cochran Firm today for your free no-obligation consultation. We have a team of dedicated lawyers across the nation that will help you seek the justice you deserve. 

Holding Law Enforcement Accountable 

The right to be free from discrimination, the right to liberty and security, and the right to equal protection under the law are all violated when police use unlawful force. Police officers must be responsible public servants who cooperate, communicate openly, and treat all the communities they serve fairly. The lack of accountability has eroded community trust and fostered suspicion and resentment. The deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake, as well as other incidents of police brutality, prompted calls for more police accountability and federal civil rights investigations in 2020 alone. Thankfully there is one federal criminal provision that applies to practically all incidents involving police violence: Title 18 of the United States Code Section 242.

Title 18 United States Code: Section 242

Title 18 United States Code: Section 242 makes it illegal for someone acting in violation of any law to purposefully deny someone a privilege or right that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or other laws. Police officers, prison guards, and other law enforcement personnel, as well as judges, caregivers at public health facilities, and other people serving as public authorities, are all considered those acting under the color of law within the meaning of this statute. Numerous types of police brutality are covered by the code, including intimidation, overuse of lethal force, sexual assault, excessive physical force, and improper use of pepper spray. However, the legislation forbids civilians from suing the police in civil court for monetary gain.

Civil Lawsuits

Civil lawsuits may also be used to hold police officers responsible. State-based claims and federal actions filed in response to Title 42 United States Code: Section 1983, the federal statute that prohibits constitutional violations by those operating under the "color of state law." Civilians must be able to file and win civil rights lawsuits on their own in order to effectively hold police accountable for wrongdoing.

Suing a Law Enforcement Agency

Immunity will most likely be a hurdle for a victim suing a law enforcement official for a civil tort. Many states have laws that grant public workers immunity when carrying out optional tasks, such as making an arrest. The 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution protects states from civil lawsuits brought by private individuals in federal court.

Furthermore, there are statutes in several states that shield municipalities from responsibility in such lawsuits. In the end, the circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction it is in will determine whether the government has a strong "immunity" argument. The qualified immunity argument, which shields an officer from accountability for civil rights breaches provided that the behavior in question did not violate a clearly recognized right, is one that police frequently use in response to Section 1983 claims.

Having a dedicated lawyer on your side during this difficult time can help you navigate the hurdles that you will face. The Cochran Firm has offices nationwide, with dozens of experienced attorneys ready to help society's innocent victims. Please contact the wrongful death attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free case evaluation.

What is Police Misconduct? 

Police misconduct refers to illegal or inappropriate action taken by an officer. It can involve a violation of state law, federal law, or police department rules and regulations.

Reports of police misconduct have become common in the news. Most often when we hear about police misconduct, it's due to instances of excessive use of force, brutality, corruption, coercive interrogations, witness tampering, or racial profiling. These actions can result in physical harm or death, false imprisonment, and violation of constitutional rights.

In addition, acts of police misconduct risk societal harm by threatening the administration of justice and eroding the trust between the police institution and citizens.

Types of Police Misconduct

  • Coerced false confession- A fault in the process including persuasion, intimidation, or other psychological coercion may lead to false confessions obtained by the police. An admission of guilt for a crime for which the confessor is not accountable constitutes a false confession.
  • False arrest- An arrest made without a warrant or reasonable suspicion. False arrests violate a person's Fourth Amendment protection from arbitrary search and seizure.
  • False imprisonment- Occurs when a police officer obstructs someone else's access to a space on purpose without their permission, justification, or legal authorization.
  • Falsification of evidence- Providing or preparing false, fabricated, forged, or corrupted evidence with the aim to present or prepare false testimony in a court of law.
  • Police perjury- Occurs when a police officer fabricates evidence to "build the case" against a suspect they believe to be guilty.
  • Witness tampering- Occurs when police make an effort to get someone to give a false testimony, withhold testimony or facts, or put undue pressure on someone to skip a hearing to which they have been invited.
  • Police brutality- A severe instance of police violence that may involve excessive force, deliberate harassment, verbal abuse, mental harm, property destruction, or even death.
  • Racial profiling- When police suspect or target a person of a certain race based on presumptive traits or behaviors of a racial or ethnic group, as opposed to on the basis of personal suspicion.
  • Unwarranted surveillance- The illegal use of technology or surveillance techniques to keep an eye on someone else's or a group of people's activities.
  • Unwarranted search and seizure- Occurs when a law enforcement official searches a location without obtaining a search warrant or having reasonable grounds to think that there is evidence of criminal activity there. The Fourth Amendment expressly places restrictions on the ability of the police to make arrests, search individuals and their property, and seize items and illegal substances.
  • Sexual misconduct- Although some police personnel do not abuse their position of power, there have been instances of police-initiated sexual assault, harassment, or exploitation of individuals. In reported situations, adolescents as well as victims and criminals in custody are involved.

Wrongful Death with Police Brutality

Nationwide, there is still a continuous issue with police brutality. When law enforcement officers violate their civil rights, victims have the right to demand significant financial compensation. But occasionally, the victims pass away as a result of their wounds. This gives eligible surviving family members the option to file wrongful death lawsuits against law enforcement officials who use brutal and excessive force.

Claims for wrongful death are made by qualifying beneficiaries and family members of the dead, who are frequently close relatives. Typically, legal action is used to recoup financial compensation to help compensate for the following losses:

  • Costs related to the victim's passing, including funeral costs and final medical bills,
  • Income that the victim would have gotten if they'd lived,
  • Benefits that were lost, including insurance,
  • Loss of inheritance as a result of the victim's premature passing,
  • The survivors experienced pain and suffering, emotional misery, and mental anguish,
  • Loss of care, protection, and company,
  • Punitive damages, which aim to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

Unfortunately, it is not simple to gain compensation to cover these costs. There are many hurdles and steps you must take to be able to successfully seek damages for your loved one. At The Cochran Firm, we are here to help you navigate these hurdles. 

A wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one or erase what happened. But, it can help you ease the financial burden of losing your family member and give some measure of closure. Our dedicated wrongful death attorneys are ready to begin your case.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys, please contact us today. We maintain offices throughout the United States, better enabling us to fight tirelessly for the civil rights of our minority Americans in all areas of the country.

Social Justice 

Social justice is the idea that every person should have equal rights and opportunities related to social justice. Fairness and equity are encouraged by social justice in many facets of society. For instance, it encourages equal chances in the workplace, in educational opportunities, and in the economy.

To properly comprehend social justice, it is essential to understand its five key principles. These principles are, access to resources, equity, participation, diversity, and human rights.

  1. Access to Resources- Refers to the degree to which all socioeconomic groups are given equal access. Many organizations provide citizens with a wide range of resources and services, including healthcare, food, shelter, education, and recreational activities. However, unequal access to such services often exists.
  2. Equity- Equity refers to how people are provided with tools tailored to their requirements and socioeconomic level. In contrast, equality provides everyone with the same resources to help them arrive at the same goal.
  3. Participation- Participation is the process through which each member of society is given the chance to express their thoughts and concerns and a voice in any decision-making that has an impact on their way of life and level of living. When a small group of people decides for a larger group, social injustice occurs since some people are unable to express their thoughts.
  4. Diversity- Because policymakers are frequently better equipped to create policies that take into account differences that exist among various socioeconomic groups, understanding diversity and appreciating the importance of cultural differences are extremely important. It is crucial to acknowledge that some groups experience more obstacles in society, and by taking these disparities into account, policymakers and government employees will be better able to increase chances for marginalized or disadvantaged groups.
  5. Human Rights- One of the most crucial social justice principles and a cornerstone of the idea is the respect for human rights. Social justice and human rights are intricately bound, and neither can exist without the other.

Civil Rights

The statute known as 42 U.S. Code, Section 1983 is the primary civil rights federal law victims of police misconduct rely upon. Originally, this statute was enacted as a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. It was meant to put an end to repressive actions taken by the government and private citizens who belonged to vigilante organizations. Because the law has been published in Title 42 of the United States Code, it is now frequently referred to as Section 1983. Anyone working in accordance with state law is prohibited under Section 1983 from denying another person their rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or any other federal law.

The most frequent claims aimed at law enforcement personnel and police officers are:

  • False arrest
  • Wrongful prosecution
  • Use of excessive force
  • Sexual assault

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our civil rights attorneys, please contact us today. We maintain offices throughout the United States, better enabling us to fight tirelessly for the civil rights of our minority Americans in all areas of the country.

Why The Cochran Firm

By advocating for those who have been the victims of prejudice and police wrongdoing, our attorneys carry on the tradition that our founder, Johnnie Cochran, left behind. For more than 50 years, we have been committed to serving our communities.

Work by The Cochran Firm has resulted in:

  • Policy changes
  • Releasing those who were unfairly detained
  • Alteration of state flags
  • Justice for the loved ones of victims of hate crimes
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars recovered for our clients

Our attorneys are in the courtroom every day fighting for the rights of individuals like you. To see the latest from our attorneys in their pursuit for equal justice see our results.

Contact The Cochran Firm today to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. We offer FREE consultations in-person and over the phone. Call 1-800-THE-FIRM to get the legal representation that you deserve. No Fee Charged if No Recovery. 

Works Cited

“Deprivation Of Rights Under Color Of Law.” Department of Justice, 31 May 2021,

“11th Amendment | U.S. Constitution | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu,

“42 U.S. Code § 1983 - Civil action for deprivation of rights.” Law.Cornell.Edu,

“Harass Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster,

Sheets, Krista. “Civil Tort Law | What is Tort Law?” LegalMatch, 7 October 2020,

“Fourth Amendment | US Constitution | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu, 

Garcia, Monique, and David Heinzmann. “Nurse who aided cop falsely held, jury says.” Chicago Tribune, 12 June 2008,

ALLEN, KARMA. “Philando Castile's girlfriend to receive $800000 settlement for emotional distress, false arrest.” ABC News, 29 November 2017, Broaddus, Adrienne. “Trial of two former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's killing has been moved up.” CNN, 21 June 2022,