Over the past several years, the issues of police brutality and abuses of power have become a major part of the national dialogue. These issues were first brought to the national spotlight back in 1991, when the video of several LAPD officers beating Rodney King sparked outrage throughout the country – eventually leading to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. These days, anyone with a smartphone can easily film incidents of police brutality as they occur. This means that victims of police brutality often have video evidence to back up their claims, whereas in the past it was simply the officer’s word against theirs.
However, there are plenty of cases of police brutality which aren’t caught on video. Additionally, far too many people suffer from emotional distress due to wrongful arrest, police harassment, and abuse while in custody. Even in the absence of video evidence, the victims of police and brutality and misconduct have legal options. Police brutality and misconduct is nothing new in NYC, but civil suits against the city have ballooned over the past few years.
How Much Has NYC Paid Out In Police Misconduct Lawsuits?
According to the Mayor’s Management Report, NYC spent $228.5 million in settlements and court verdicts for police misconduct lawsuits in the fiscal year 2016. This figure is nearly three times the $86.5 million that was paid out in 2005. This surge in lawsuit payouts may not necessarily mean that police misconduct has become more common, but that victims today feel they have more legal recourse. Although the dollar figure paid out in these claims has dramatically risen, the total number of complaints has actually declined – from 5,700 complaints and 3,600 lawsuits in 2012 to 4,711 complaints and 2,933 lawsuits in 2016.
Recent Million-Dollar NYPD Police Brutality Settlements
A handful of high-profile multi-million dollar settlements have also contributed to this trend, such as:
- A $40 million settlement to five men wrongfully convicted of murder in 1995
- Another $40 million settlement for the “Central Park Five”, who were wrongfully convicted of raping and beating a jogger in 1989
- A $75 million class-action settlement for nearly 1 million dubious summons (allegedly made to meet quotas)
- A $5.9 million settlement to the family of Eric Garner, who was killed by a chokehold in a 2014 police encounter
- A $4.1 million settlement to the family of Akai Gurley, the unarmed man shot and killed by an NYPD officer in a Brooklyn housing project in 2014
While these settlement payouts may not ease the pain of losing years of your life in prison or losing a loved one in a fatal police encounter, they do help hold the department liable for the pain and devastation they’ve caused. As more victims take legal action and the payouts continue to rise, perhaps the NYPD will be forced to do more to combat police brutality and misconduct.
What Can You Sue The Police For?
Like other personal injury cases, you must prove that police negligence or outright malice resulted in your physical or emotional injuries. However, taking the NYPD to court is much more complicated than a personal injury lawsuit against a private party. The department has certain legal protections that most individuals do not. This is why we advise speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you’re considering a lawsuit.
Some examples of cases that could be grounds for lawsuits against the NYPD include:
- Physical injuries suffered due to excessive force
- Emotional distress from excessive force, wrongful arrests and convictions, etc.
- Wrongful death
- False arrest and false imprisonment
If you’re looking to stand up to the NYPD after you or a loved one was injured or killed in a police encounter, we want to help. You can learn more about your legal options in a free consultation with our NYC personal injury lawyers.