Police brutality is referred as the deliberate

Police brutality is referred as the
deliberate use of verbal or immoderate force directed towards a country’s
citizens by the police force. This force may be physical or in form of psychological
persecution. Police brutality is seen in many countries, especially in the news
where such cases are reported. It is seen as a form of police misconduct which
involves sexual abuse, police corruption, false arrests, racial profiling, and
political repression. Police brutality is usually brought to minority groups
such as the poor, the weak and the elderly. Nearly all of these police
brutality actions are always linked to racism. Many countries have allowed
their police force to use force in apprehending the suspects and also in
protecting themselves. They are however supposed to use reasonable amounts of
force in controlling any situation and in accomplishing their goals. Police
brutality always violates the suspect’s constitutional rights and it should be
stopped. This paper is going to discuss police brutality against minorities.

In analyzing
police brutality against minorities, it is important to look at the laws that
govern the amount of force police officers are permitted to use against
suspects. Since much of the scrutiny of police use of force occurs when police
conduct an arrest, the Fourth Amendment
of the US Constitution will be analyzed for the protections it
affords citizens. Furthermore, since police are an extension of the state they
are expected to act in a way that protects citizens. There are suggestions in
training the police work force, which will be analyzed. Finally, the
landmark
Supreme Court Case Graham v. Connor,490
U.S. 386, 396 (1989) which is used in the Court’s analyses of excessive
force cases that follow them, is analyzed for the legal basis it provides
regarding how much force is reasonable for an officer to use. These
case was chosen because in every case of excessive force, the Graham standard
is applied. These case provides the court a lens to analyze police use of force
and is used as the basis of my legal research.

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Excessive
force cases fall under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution since “the Fourth
Amendment provides explicit textual source of constitutional protection against
this sort of physically intrusive governmental conduct.” (Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989)) The Fourth Amendment states
that: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized. (Legal Information Institute).  A “seizure”
takes place any time a person’s freedom of movement is interrupted by an agent
of the Government, such as the police (Graham v.

Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989)). Title 42 of the
United States Code Section 1983 (42 U.S.C
§1983) provides protection to citizens against Constitutional violations by
government officials. Claims against police officers fall under 42 U.S.C §1983
and one must prove that a police officer acted in his or her official capacity
in a way that violated the plaintiff’s Constitutional rights. In bringing
claims against police officers, the Supreme Court quoted the District Court in
Graham: “the factors to be considered in determining
when the excessive use of force gives rise to a cause of action under §
1983”: (1) the need for the application of force; (2) the relationship
between that need and the amount of force that was used; (3) the extent of the
injury inflicted; and (4) “whether the force was applied in a good faith
effort to maintain and restore discipline or
maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.” (Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)). Though the above provides a generic
standard, not all cases can apply the above factors uniformly. According to the
Supreme Court, analysis under § 1983 one must first identify specifically, the
Constitutional right that was infringed upon and then judge the “constitutional
standard that govern that
right.” (Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989)).

Delegates from countries such as Namibia and Chad have called the
American justice system broken and have argued that the American image of
freedom has been tarnished. However, it should be noted that The United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights is a Prince from Jordan, a country that has
significantly more human rights violations than the United States, including
heavily restricting anti-government speech, marital restrictions, and sexist
laws. Though the validity of Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein’s comments do not carry
the legitimacy that a United Nations Security Council Resolution has, his comments
do indicate that the United States is being watched for their response to
criticism against police brutality. Furthermore, the Working Group of Experts
on People of African Descent has analyzed the situation in the United States as
reminiscent of Jim Crow Laws and stated “impunity for state violence has
resulted in the current human rights crisis and it must be addressed as a
matter of urgency.” (Police Impunity and Crisis of Racial Injustice). UN Experts have recommended training police officers for appropriate
policing, building trust between communities and police, as well as increasing
minority representation in the police force.

Section 9.25 of the United
States Courts for the Ninth Circuit states circumstances
to whether the officer used excessive force.

 

“1. The severity of the Crime. 2. Whether the plaintiff posed an immediate threat to
the safety of the officer(s) or to others; 3. Whether the plaintiff was
actively resisting arrest or evading arrest by flight; 4. The amount of time
and any changing circumstances during which the officer had to determine the
type and amount of force that appeared to be necessary; 5. The type and amount
of force used; 6. The availability of other methods to take the plaintiff into
custody to subdue the plaintiff” (United States Courts for the Ninth
Circuit).

 

 

By citing Graham, the
federal courts acknowledge its applicability in juries determining the

outcome of excessive
force cases almost thirty years after it was decided. An important point of

Graham is that it
addresses what is reasonable for an officer who is attempting to make an
arrest.

“The calculus
of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are
often

forced
to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and
rapidly

evolving
about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”
(Graham).

Likewise,
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center instructor Tim Miller, cites Graham
in

his
training sessions for federal Law enforcement. Tim Miller says that one officer
may

make
a different decision from another. This means that in the heat of the moment,
the officer’s

course
of action had to be reasonable, not in the 20/20 vision of hindsight, as also
pointed out in

Graham. The standard as set forth in
Graham is particularly helpful in analyzing what may be excessive force on the
part of the police. An interesting portion of Miller’s analysis of Graham is
that police officers are only responsible for using a reasonable amount of force,
not a minimal amount of force. In analyzing the actions of the police, one must
be careful not to hold them to a minimal amount of force standard.

Furthermore, saying things like “The officer should have used a Taser, since it
would have been a better option than shooting a suspect,” would not only be
judging police on a minimal force standard but also be judging their actions in
hindsight. Given the situation at the time and given the facts the officer had
available to him or her, shooting a suspect may be a safer option than Tasing1
them if the suspect posed a threat to the officer or to the community. (Miller,
Use of Force Test).

Understandably, officers make split
second decisions in the heat of the moment. However, it is not enough for
officers to use the heat of the moment as an excuse for using excessive force.

The foundation of the United States is to promote personal liberties and
justice for all of its citizens and in order to provide such the multi-branch
government system was formed. In this regard, it is the job of the court to
determine the punishment of criminals, not the police. The Fourth Amendment is
in place for this reason to secure citizens against unreasonable intrusion by
the government. Therefore, if the police are arbitrarily making the decision to
fire their weapon in a shoot to kill fashion without first employing other
methods to arrest a suspect, the police are contradicting simple principals.

The United Nations sees this happening, as does the “Black Lives Matter”
movement, “Campaign Zero,” and the other institutions that are trying to push
for a change in policing and society. Though only time will tell whether the
United States government agencies such as the FBI, the Justice Department and
the Policing Task Force also take these concerns seriously, it is clear that
there needs to be significant reforms in police culture before police brutality
becomes a thing of the past.

 

 

 

 

1
Tasing is the action of probes
attaching themselves to the attacker to emit electrical impulses.

 

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