If someone is injured during an arrest, they may threaten to sue. They could say that the police officers shouldn’t have used force and that the injuries could have been avoided. Even if they’re guilty of the crime — drug trafficking or robbery, for instance — they’ll still say that their rights were violated and they deserve compensation for those injuries.
But is this always true? Or are there situations where the police have to use force, meaning they’re not to blame for the injuries that may be caused when they do?
Using the proper amount of force is key
It is fully legal for the police to use force, and the National Institute of Justice notes that doing so is often necessary. An officer may feel that he or she needs to protect the public from a threat and that force is the only way to do it. The officer could also be afraid for their own health and well-being — if a gun is pulled during a traffic stop, for instance. Force is legal and it is useful when those who have broken the law will not listen to anything else.
That being said, the key is to use the proper amount of force. Excessive force is a problem, such as when someone is shot while simply walking away. Officers need to be trained to recognize how much force is necessary. As long as that is all they apply, they are not liable for violating someone’s rights and causing injury.
That doesn’t mean these personal injury cases won’t make their way to court, though. Officers and entire police departments may need to consider their legal options.