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The Shocking Reality of Police Brutality in New Jersey


9/16/2019

While police brutality is widely reported upon in the media, it seems like it always happens to someone else. Unfortunately, police brutality is very real, and perhaps more so in New Jersey than other places in the country. A recent incident in Dover, New Jersey involving a 19-year-old man has brought renewed attention to the problem. While increased media attention has led to changes across the country, police brutality still happens. We need to remain vigilant and dedicated to addressing the problem.

New Jersey civil rights lawyer Lauren Wimmer helps people in New Jersey who have been the victims of police brutality. She will fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 215-712-1212 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with Ms. Wimmer and learn about how she can help you.

The Dilemma Involving the Use of Force

The police have the right to use a necessary amount of force to make an arrest, protect themselves, or protect other members of the public. However, the degree of force that the police are entitled to use depends heavily on circumstances. The officer must make a subjective decision in the heat of the moment as to what amount of force is required, but it must be reasonable. The use of force does not necessarily mean that the police have acted inappropriately. Unfortunately, there appears to be a culture among New Jersey’s police where the use of excessive force is more common than it should be.

The Force Report

One of the main issues with police brutality in New Jersey is the lack of adequate oversight from policing or other state authorities. There is no statewide system to track police brutality in New Jersey and no standard practices in reporting or handling police brutality complaints among individual departments. As a result, NJ.com reviewed more than 72,000 use of force reports filed in every police department in New Jersey from 2012 through 2016. After compiling the data, NJ.com produced the Force Report, which illustrates exactly how widespread police brutality is in New Jersey.

The report contains several troubling findings. And while it’s important to shed light on the issue, the reality is that police departments are unlikely to change their practices until they are held accountable. If you’re a victim of police brutality, an experienced civil rights attorney can help you get the justice you deserve.

Disparities Identified

The Force Report contains several troubling findings. Among those is the fact that a small number of officers are responsible for a disproportionately high number of police brutality cases:

  • 10% of officers accounted for 38% of all uses of force
  • 252 officers used force five times more often than the average police officer

These statistics illustrate that there are individual police officers in New Jersey who are prone to excessive use of force. Even more troubling, these statistics indicate that no action has been taken by individual police departments to curb the officers’ behavior.

African-Americans Face Heightened Risks

According to the report, African-Americans in New Jersey are three times more likely to be subjected to the use of force than whites. The situation is even more troubling when you look at certain localities:

  • In Millville, New Jersey, African-Americans are six times more likely to be subject to the use of force.
  • In South Orange, they are 10 times more likely to face the use of force by police.
  • African-Americans in Lakewood are 22 times more likely to face the use of force than the state average.

The findings have prompted a series of public hearings. Racial disparities in the use of force by police is a problem across the county, but the data indicates that this is also a serious problem in New Jersey.

The Use of Force and Serious Injuries

The report also highlights the severity of the force used by reviewing the injuries that were caused. For example, researchers reported the following:

  • 9,281 people were injured by police from 2012 to 2016
  • 4,382 people were hospitalized
  • 156 officers caused at least one person to go to the hospital in each year of the study

Again, the use of force doesn’t necessarily mean that the police engaged in brutality. However, the last statistic taken together with the disparities noted above, suggest that there are officers who routinely use excessive force.

Your Rights

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees your right to be free from unreasonable and unlawful searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment protects you from being illegally searched or arrested, but it also protects you from the excessive use of force. In short, police brutality is a violation of your constitutional rights.

If you are the victim of police brutality, federal law gives you the right to pursue a civil claim for your injuries and other losses. This means that you can sue the police for money damages, including your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While suing the police may seem intimidating, it is the most effective way to hold them accountable and get the justice you deserve.

What to Do if You’re a Victim of Police Brutality

Many victims of police brutality don’t know what to do – they feel overwhelmed and completely disillusioned, in addition to being rightfully angry and upset. However, the days following the incident are critical. If you believe you’re a victim of police brutality, you need to take the following steps:

  • Seek medical treatment. Your medical records will be indispensable in documenting your claim.
  • Document your claim. Keep copies of all of your medical bills and document any lost wages or other losses.
  • Contact your witnesses. Make sure you get all of their contact information and ask for them to support you in your claim.
  • Contact a civil rights attorney. Successfully pursuing a claim against the police is extremely difficult for a non-lawyer. A lawyer who has experience with police brutality cases can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Injured by the Police? Contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law Today to Speak with a Civil Rights Lawyer in New Jersey

New Jersey civil rights lawyer Lauren Wimmer is dedicated to helping victims of police brutality get the justice they deserve. She has the experience and knowledge you need to hold the police accountable for their actions. You don’t have to suffer in silence – call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to see how we can help you.