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Police Brutality in Los Angeles

police officer los angelesOne look at recent headlines shows a string of verdicts handed down for police brutality and misconduct in Los Angeles, leaving community members both stunned and skeptical. Following the 1992 Rodney King beatings and subsequent riots, the LAPD took active measures to reform what had been labeled an organization rife with corruption. New commissions were instated, and the Los Angeles Police Department began to garner high marks for its alleged transparency and reform—but for many in our community, civil rights violations continue to occur at an unacceptably high rate.

“It seems that the Los Angeles Police Department is spiraling out of control with these controversial shootings and beatings,” veteran Los Angeles activist Najee Ali told The Daily Beast in 2012.

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 accountable 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.

Examples of police brutality in Los Angeles

Ellis Law boasts a highly-credentialed team of civil rights attorneys, who along with an 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 in negotiating settlements on behalf of Southern California residents.

Our team handles cases arising from the following claims:

  • Misuse of police weapons such as tasers and stun guns
  • Use of unreasonable excessive force
  • Physical abuse such as choking, kicking, beating, etc.
  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Misuse of power
  • Unnecessary use of pepper spray or tasers
  • Denial of medical care
  • Unwarranted use of attack dogs

As provided under the protections 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 ones civil rights. Excessive force may be those measures that depart from LAPD training guidelines, which result in serious personal injury or death.

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 proceeding for redress.”

The police department, jurisdiction or individual officers may be named defendants in a police brutality case. In 2012, 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.

Recent LAPD police brutality cases

Other recent cases arising from claims of excessive police force include that of Ronald Weekley Jr., a 20-year-old Venice resident who was allegedly beaten by LAPD after he was found skateboarding on the wrong side of the street, against traffic. Weekley suffered a broken cheekbone and nose from the incident, which a bystander recorded on his cell phone. In the video footage, an officer is seen punching the skateboarder in the face.

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.”

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 has sparked fear of a backslide and growing concern over the lack of internal disciplinary procedures.

If you or a loved one was injured or traumatized by a law enforcement official who you believe used illegal or excessive force, we invite you to contact us for a free case evaluation at 1-800-INJURED.

  1. MyFoxLA.com, On-Going Case Of The Death Of Alesia Thomas Takes Another Turn, http://www.myfoxla.com/story/23712951/on-going-case-of-the-death-of-alesia-thomas-takes-another-turn
  2. The Daily Beast, In Los Angeles, Questions of Police Brutality Dog LAPD http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/24/in-los-angeles-questions-of-police-brutality-dog-lapd.html
  3. LA Times, Jury finds LAPD officer was wrong to handcuff disabled man http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/11/jury-finds-lapd-officer-was-wrong-to-handcuff-disabled-man.html
  4. Uprising Radio.org, Disabled African American Man in Inglewood Brutally Arrested by LAPD Awarded Nearly $1.6 million http://uprisingradio.org/home/2012/11/12/disabled-african-american-man-in-inglewood-brutally-arrested-by-lapd-awarded-nearly-1-6-million/
  5. CATO Institute, 2010 Annual Report http://www.policemisconduct.net/statistics/2010-annual-report/
  6. KCRW, Brutality Claims Belie LAPD Reforms, http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/which-way-la/brutality-claims-belie-lapd-reforms