Los Angeles Police Brutality Lawyer
Please note: Although Ellis Injury Law does not take police brutality cases, we are happy to provide you with this content on the subject. Our law firm focuses on physical injury cases from car, truck, and slip and fall accidents.
Despite heightened attention to police brutality and misconduct in Los Angeles, the LAPD continues to use questionable violence and kill civilians at alarming rates. According to homicide records, the police in Los Angeles County killed some 23 people in the first six months of 2020, and over the past two decades, an average of 42 people were shot or killed by law enforcement every single month. Some activists have labeled this trend “a reign of terror,” complaining that the sheriff’s department takes matters into their own hands, without fear of consequences or accountability.
Victims of police misconduct and abuse in Los Angeles may feel they face an uphill battle when proving their injuries or emotional trauma was caused by unreasonable excessive force. At Ellis Law, our LAPD police brutality attorneys know that this type of abuse violates civil rights law. Our lawyers will assist in the documentation of your injuries and preserve evidence to make sure officers who breached this trust are held liable for your pain and suffering.
With skilled legal advocates on your side, you and your loved ones will not only feel empowered to fight for fair compensation and justice; you’ll be stopping a vicious cycle of abuse and mistreatment at the hands of those whom we want to trust most – our city’s law enforcement officials.
Police brutality and misconduct in Los Angeles
Amnesty International has raised concerns with law enforcement officials in California regarding the use of electro-shock belts, oleoresin capsicum pepper spray, excessive force, and unjustified shootings, among other issues. While the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the LAPD have implemented major reforms in recent years, significant problems remain, many of which are attributed to poor leadership, lack of supervision, and longstanding systemic failures.
Police brutality and misconduct can cause a range of devastating consequences for victims, from loss of employment to severe bodily injuries and false imprisonment. If your civil rights were violated by law enforcement authorities, you have the right to seek compensation through legal action.
Ellis Law boasts a highly credentialed team of police brutality lawyers, who along with expert support staff, are committed to holding abusive officers responsible for their actions. We are known for our personalized service, staunch work ethic, and proven track record of negotiating favorable settlements on behalf of Southern California residents.
We conduct thorough investigations of police brutality and misconduct claims arising from:
- Misuse of police weapons such as stun guns, pepper spray, batons, and tasers
- Use of unreasonable excessive force
- Use of illegal chokeholds
- Misconduct motivated by racial discrimination
- Malicious prosecution
- Physical abuse such as choking, kicking, beating, etc.
- Rape or sexual assault
- Unlawful surveillance
- Misuse of power
- Failure to intervene
- Illegal search and seizure
- Denials of due process
- Denial of medical care
- Infringements of First Amendment rights
- Unwarranted use of attack dogs
As provided under the protection of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. constitution, law enforcement officials, including street officers, detectives and security guards are not allowed to use unreasonable levels of “excessive force” as this violates one’s civil rights. Excessive force might be those measures that depart from LAPD training guidelines, which result in serious personal injury or wrongful death.
Certain populations targeted by police brutality
According to data cited by the LA Times, certain populations in Southern California are disproportionately affected by police abuses of power.
African Americans account for less than 10 percent of the population in LA County, yet represent a quarter of all police killings. Nearly all of these deaths are young men who range in age from 20 to 39.
Greater rates of civilian killings by LAPD occur in Compton, Long Beach, and Inglewood, home to large numbers of Latino and black residents. Data also shows that black and Latino residents are stopped and searched significantly more often than Asians or Caucasians.
According to state data compiled over the past 20 years, there have been 900 killings by local law enforcement that were ruled a homicide. Close to 80 percent of these victims were either black or Latino.
Multiple types of police violence and uses of force can result in severe injury or death. The most prevalent include:
- Hit shooting
- Control holds/takedowns
- A physical altercation with kicks and punches
- An electronic device such as a Taser
- Impact projectiles like rubber bullets
- Blunt/impact weapon
- Carotid restraint control hold
- K-9 contact
- Non-hit shooting
- Pepper/Chemical spray
- Threat of firearm
- Police officer vehicle contact
It is illegal for law enforcement to use more force than is reasonably necessary. If you were harmed by unconstitutional uses of force by the LAPD or other local officers, the attorneys of Ellis Law will uncover the true circumstances and pursue fair compensation and justice on your behalf.
LAPD police brutality protests turn violent
A recent study published by the Criminal Justice Policy Review on police behaviors and misconduct in a department with 1,000 officers found that a “small percentage of officers are responsible for a large proportion of force incidents and that officers who regularly use force differ in important and significant ways from officers who use force less often, or not at all.”
During the LA protests over the killing of George Floyd, large numbers of excessive-force complaints were lodged by demonstrators. According to reports by the LA Times, protesters claimed that police were firing weapons indiscriminately into large groups, and sometimes from point-blank range. Others said that police were using batons on protesters who were passively staying in place and refusing orders to disperse. Witnesses say they saw police round up peaceful demonstrators into tight spaces, where they shot rubber bullets or lashed out with batons. Many of these protestors suffered physical harm – from bruises and lacerations to serious head and groin wounds — at the hands of men and women with badges. One protestor who was shot in the jaw with a rubber bullet required surgery and is left with a steel plate and rubber bands to stabilize her jaw while the bones heal.
While bean bag bullets, sponge grenades, and pepper spray balls are deemed less lethal, they can still result in severe injury or death. Vision loss, limb amputations, brain injury, and internal injury are just some of the injuries inflicted by these projectiles.
Who is liable in cases of police abuse or misconduct?
For most victims of LAPD police brutality, a civil rights lawsuit is the best form of recourse. Legal action has resulted in several multi-million dollar awards for plaintiffs and their loved ones.
The civil rights statute (section 1983) stipulates that: “Any person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceedings for redress.”
The police department, jurisdiction, or individual officers may be named defendants in a police brutality case. In one notable case, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury ordered LAPD officer Alex Tellez to pay Allen Harris $90,000 in punitive damages from his personal funds, after they found that the officer had used excessive force when handcuffing the semi-paralyzed man. The civil rights action verdict provided $1,596,000 in compensatory damage plus legal costs under California Civil Code Section 52.1.
LAPD police brutality cases make headlines
Los Angeles County has shelled out over $58 million in police misconduct lawsuits for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, including more than $10 million in legal and court costs.
The local anti-police brutality protests following the killing of George Floyd resulted in a whopping 56 misconduct complaints against the LAPD – and half of these entailed allegations of excessive use of force. Initial inquiries prompted authorities to pull at least 10 officers from the field, assigning them to desk duty until investigations are completed.
Other recent cases include that of 61-year-old Michael Thomas, a grandfather who was fatally shot by LASD officers last year in his Lancaster home. The officers, who were responding to a domestic violence call, claimed that Thomas, who was reportedly unarmed, had reached for the deputy’s gun. The victim’s girlfriend said that Thomas was only trying to stop the police from unlawfully entering his house, fearing the worst.
The 2012 case of Alesia Thomas, who died after being violently kicked by an LA police officer while in custody, continues to play out in courts. The officer on duty was not charged with Thomas’ death, but the District Attorney says that the police cruiser camera captured images of the deceased being repeatedly kicked in the stomach and groin area by the veteran officer and former marine, Mary O’Callaghan. The LAPD has subsequently acknowledged the video’s existence, releasing a statement that it “revealed some questionable tactics and improper comments.”
Experienced advocacy you can trust
At Ellis Injury Law, our legal team has secured millions of dollars in compensation for victims who have been unjustly harmed. Police brutality cases are notoriously complex and require skilled representation, which is exactly what you can expect with our Los Angeles-based firm. Our attorneys are renowned for their dedication, unwavering work ethic, and readiness to go to trial if an appropriate settlement is not reached with the defense.
Our attorneys apply their decades of civil rights and personal injury experience to help those whose rights have been violated by law enforcement. We believe that victims of police misconduct and brutality deserve the highest caliber of advocacy no matter their financial means. For this reason, we offer our legal services on a contingency fee arrangement. It costs nothing to retain an expert attorney at Ellis Law, and you pay nothing until a recovery is made on your behalf.
Ellis Law can protect your rights
For more than 20 years, the attorneys at Ellis Law firm have been leading the charge in defending innocent victims of police misconduct and abuse. As residents of the greater Los Angeles area, we have to ask what type of discipline do officers accused of abuse or brutality receive? Recent civil rights lawsuits brought against the LAPD have sparked fear of a backslide and growing concern over the lack of internal disciplinary procedures.
If you or a loved one was injured or experienced trauma by a law enforcement official who you believe used unjustified or excessive force, we invite you to contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation. Call us today to explore your options for legal recourse.