America is the Land of the Free – the greatest country in the world. Since the time Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and the Framers subsequently executed the United States Constitution, America has been a beacon of freedom for the world. No other country can boast the constitutional protections and other civil liberties we afford all people in this great country.
In America, civil rights and human rights are legally protected by the United States Constitution, treaties, and federal and state laws. The United States Constitution expressly recognizes a number of inalienable rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, freedom from excessive fines and “cruel and unusual” punishments, the right to a jury trial, and equal protection under the law. Some consider the Constitution a living and breathing document because, through judge-made case law, courts have held that individuals have additional rights that are not expressly stated in the Constitution.
Unfortunately, sometimes government agencies, the police, or other “state actors” behave in a way that violates our civil rights and civil liberties. Over time, such conduct, if left unchecked, can quickly erode the constitutional protections established from the time of our country’s founding and expanded throughout the past nearly two and half centuries. A common example of such conduct is police brutality.
Individuals are protected against police brutality and excessive force. Police are charged with protecting our safety. As such, they possess certain powers ordinary citizens do not possess. Unfortunately, there are times when police officers act beyond their authority. This usually takes the form of police brutality, use of excessive force, or improper arrests. “Police brutality” is a term used to describe any excessive and unnecessary physical force, assault, or abuse used by law enforcement when dealing with the public. Victims of police brutality and excessive force may be entitled to damages.