Battery by Peace Officer
To establish a claim for battery in California against a police officer, a Plaintiff must prove all of the following: (if any element is missing, there is no battery by a police officer):
1. That officers touched the Plaintiff or caused the Plaintiff to be touched;
2. That the officers’ used unreasonable force to (arrest/prevent the escape of/overcome the resistance of) the Plaintiff;
3. That the Plaintiff did not consent to the use of that force;
4. That the Plaintiff was harmed; and
5. That the officers’ use of unreasonable force was a substantial factor in causing the Plaintiff’s harm.
A peace officer may use reasonable force to arrest or detain a person when he or she has reasonable cause to believe that that person has committed a crime. Even if the police officer is mistaken, a person being arrested or detained has a duty not to use force to resist the police officer unless the police officer is using unreasonable force.
When California jury’s decide whether a police officer used unreasonable force, they must determine the amount of force that would have appeared reasonable to a police officer in the officer’s position under the same or similar circumstances. California juries consider these 3 factors:
1. The seriousness of the crime at issue;
2. Whether the Plaintiff reasonably appeared to pose an immediate threat to the safety of the police officers or others; and
3. Whether the Plaintiff was actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest.
Police Misconduct Cases
Police misconduct cases are very difficult to prove without direct evidence such as video, audio recordings, photos, or unbiased witness testimony. If you are assaulted by a police officer:
1. Speak to an attorney in your local area immediately to preserve your rights and statute of limitations;
2. File a formal complaint against the officer, if you believe it is reasonably safe to do so;
3. Go to the hospital and document your injuries;
4. Take photos of your injuries;
5. Collect the information of any witnesses that may have witnessed the events in question;
6. Scan the area where the incident occurred for any potential video evidence of the incident (e.g., gas stations, buildings, ATMs, etc.). Video evidence needs to be preserved immediately as most systems overwrite prior video footage after a certain amount of time.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this post and website is not to be construed as legal advice. Each case and client is different and it is best to directly consult a licensed attorney in your region if you are involved in an assault/battery or any other legal matter.