10 Examples of Police Misconduct to Refer to for Your Case
Police misconduct is any action done by a police officer that is illegal, inappropriate, or against police policies. This is a broad concept that can range from using excessive force, performing illegal searches, selective law enforcement, racial profiling, and even sexual assault.
Because many of these actions and concepts are broad and non-specific, it can be hard to delve into exactly what problems these cases involve. But skilled criminal defense attorneys can often use police misconduct to get criminal charges dismissed or even bring a civil claim against police for financial damages.
We’re going to go over 10 examples of police misconduct cases so you can see exactly what police misconduct is, and how it plays out in court.
1. Philando Castile Case
The Philando Castile case is one of the most famous police brutality cases to come up since Rodney King’s assault in 1992. So what happened?
Philando Castile was driving in a car with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s daughter. He was then pulled over by Officer Jeronimo Yanez. Mr. Castile immediately reported to the officer that he had a legal gun in his possession.
The events that happened next are the example of police misconduct: Yanez tells Castile not to reach for his gun. Castile replies that he is not going to reach for his gun and that he is going to reach for his ID. His girlfriend, and police body footage, corroborate this story.
However, Yanez does not listen and fires 7 shots into the car, killing Castile. This is considered excessive use of force, especially considering that there was an unarmed person and child in the car when Yanez fired 7 shots at close range.
Yanez was charged with manslaughter and acquitted. However, he was removed from his position as a police officer and Castile’s girlfriend received over 800,000 dollars in settlements from the city.
2. Lying to Investigators
When police officers make an arrest, they’re required to tell the investigators that often take over the case all of the details and information they can. Lying to investigators about anything involving the arrest or the case is an example of police misconduct. This can be considered an obstruction of justice as well as going against police rules and regulations.
After the Mike Brown case in Ferguson, there was a huge Department of Justice probe into the racial profiling and misconduct performed by the Ferguson Police Department.
One thing they found in this report is that officers consistently lied to investigators about arrests, events, and interactions. One example given was that an officer lied about an altercation over the police loudspeaker.
This is a serious police misconduct offense, but the officer was only suspended for 12 hours (which, in fact, is another example of police misconduct, since that punishment doesn’t follow police regulations).
3. Ferguson Racial Profiling
That same report showed multiple examples of racial profiling within the FPD as well. Racial profiling occurs when officers and law enforcement officials use race or skin color as the basis for suspecting a crime.
This occurred a lot in Ferguson and is a prime example of police misconduct. The report showed that officers would target men of color, hold them, and then search whether there was a warrant out for their arrest (which is another example of police misconduct).
4. Planted Evidence
Officers planting evidence in order to make an arrest is a gross misuse of power and an example of police misconduct. A current case involving the premise of planting evidence involves Officer Richard Pinheiro of the Baltimore Police Department.
This case showed via body cam footage that Officer Pinheiro planted fake drug evidence in order to arrest a man on drug charges, which led to this man being held in jail for multiple months (all because of fake evidence).
This might be a problem within the Baltimore Police Department, seeing as another example of planted evidence was unearthed also because of body cam footage at a 2016 traffic stop.
5. Walter Scott Case
The Walter Scott case involves both the issue of planted evidence and police brutality. Attorneys involved in this case had to be both experts on police brutality, civil rights issues, and planted evidence in order to get a conviction.
If you want to learn more about or find lawyers that specialize in police brutality, check out these attorneys.
And get a conviction they did: the officer involved was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the case. But what happened?
A cell phone video captured the events: Officer Michael Slager pulled over Walter Scott for an allegedly broken taillight. Scott and Slager apparently fought, and Scott fled the scene as Slager fired multiple shots at him (he was unarmed).
Slager is also seen to be placing his taser next to the body of Walter Scott, essentially planting evidence to make it seem like Scott was armed and using a weapon against him.
It was eventually ruled that Slager used excessive force and that Scott’s shooting death should be considered second-degree murder.
6. Sexual Assault and Rape
Some officers use their power to assault and rape alleged suspects. One example detailed how two New York City police officers arrested a young teenage woman for possession of marijuana. They loaded her into their unmarked police van and forced her to perform oral sex on them; they eventually raped her.
They threatened to charge her with crimes if she didn’t follow their orders. They’ve since been charged with multiple crimes including official police misconduct, sexual assault, kidnapping, and coercion.
7. Witness Tampering
Witness tampering is a type of police misconduct where police officers attempt to change or alter witness testimony by bribes, threats, or other coercive measures. An example case of this occurred recently in Maui, Hawai’i.
Now former police officer Anthony Maldonado pulled over a vehicle in a routine traffic stop. During this stop, Maldonado noticed a large amount of cash in the car, so he stole it.
This in itself is an act of police misconduct referred to as theft under the law. That’s not where the misconduct ends, though. Once the man realized his money was stolen, he reported it to the police department.
Maldonado and four others tried to bribe the man to drop the charges and withdraw the complaint. This is considered witness tampering and is a serious example of police misconduct.
Maldonado is no longer on the force, and he faces years in prison for these actions.
8. Drunk Police Officer
Drinking or using drugs on duty is a huge violation of police rules and regulations, which makes it an example of police misconduct. A recent example: a former Georgia police officer was fired after his supervisor discovered him drunk while filing paperwork.
While this might seem relatively innocuous, image what could happen if a police officer was drunk on duty and got into their police vehicle. Or made an arrest while high. Or shot someone in a drunken rage. Or even made a huge error in paperwork that allowed a murderer to walk free.
Even the smallest example of police misconduct is a serious problem.
9. Rachelle Jackson
Rachelle Jackson of Chicago witnessed a horrific car accident involving Chicago police officers. She bravely ran to the car and pulled one of the officers out fearing that the vehicle was going to explode.
When other officers arrived, Jackson was immediately detained and was questioned about stealing the officer’s weapon and disarming a peace officer. She then went to jail for 10 months awaiting trial after she was threatened and essentially forced to sign a statement that officers made for her.
The case was dismissed by a judge and Jackson turned around and sued the officers involved and the city for a false arrest, coercive questioning, and malicious prosecution (all examples of police misconduct).
10. Eric Garner
The Eric Garner case is another example of police brutality as a form of police misconduct. He was allegedly selling illegal cigarettes on the street of Staten Island. He wasn’t threatening or being violent towards the officers.
The officers attempted to make an arrest and wrestled Garner to the ground. They then put him in a chokehold (an illegal maneuver for police officers to perform) when Garner said repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe.
“I can’t breathe” has become one of the rallying cries of the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement that focuses on the unfair and biased police brutality that mostly black men (but also any person of color) face.
Officers continued to press his head into the ground and kept him in a chokehold. He suffered neck injuries and died because of those compressions.
This case was considered to show police officers using illegal maneuvers and using excessive force. However, neither of the officers involved were charged with a crime.
The officer who put Garner in a chokehold was stripped of both his badge and his gun. His supervisor was also charged with failure to supervise and also stripped of her badge and gun.
10 Examples of Police Misconduct Cases: Wrapping Up
Police misconduct is a scary thought: police offers are supposed to be the people we trust to keep us safe. But, as these examples of police misconduct show, when police break the law or go against regulations, they can harm people’s lives forever.
If you need a lawyer to help with a potential police misconduct case, contact us. We can help find the best lawyer for your case.