How to Legally Handle Police Brutality

Written by john mack freeman
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How to Legally Handle Police Brutality
You have legal rights, but many police will not respect those rights (police image by Robert Grzywaczewski from

Police brutality has received a lot of media attention in recent years. Personally dealing with police brutality, though, can be complicated: who do you turn to when law enforcement personnel are the ones acting unlawfully? If you are a victim of police brutality, dealing with the matter legally through the court system is the best way to ensure that your rights are not violated. Police brutality is a serious accusation, so make sure that you are prepared with evidence before embarking on this path.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Follow the instructions of the officers attempting to harass you. Although this may seem counterintuitive, resisting arrest of a law officer will exacerbate your problems. Do what they ask of you and attempt to stay low to the ground to prevent any more brutality that you may become the victim of.

  2. 2

    Write down officers' names, badge numbers and car numbers. Ask if you are being detained. If not, immediately walk away. If you are being detained, the police must have a "reasonable suspicion," not just a guess or a stereotype.

  3. 3

    Keep records and document any injuries. Use all resources you can get to document the extent of brutality you received. Take pictures of injuries and videos of police committing the crime. Keep this evidence safe--remember that police cannot prevent witnesses from observing their actions. Brutality can be a hard charge to prove, so the more accurate, timely evidence you have, the better chances your court case has of being heard.

  4. 4

    Get a lawyer that specialises in police brutality. This is not a campaign that you want to wage on your own; a good lawyer can help you file the necessary motions and aid you in understanding your rights. You may be eligible to sue the police department or police officers involved for damages. If the brutality happened during the course of an arrest, bringing it up as a counter suit in your criminal trial may be useful as a mitigating circumstance.

Tips and warnings

  • You have the right to be in a public place and to observe police activity.
  • If you see someone else being confronted by the police, stop and act as a witness.
  • If a cop attempts to search your person, car or house without a warrant, state that you "do not consent to the search." They can, however, do a "pat search," but they are not allowed to go into your pockets.
  • It is not a crime to be without ID.
  • Opening your car door or boot, or letting the police inside your home signifies consent to a search. Talk to them outside your house.
  • If arrested, refuse to talk to the police until your lawyer arrives. Do not discuss your case to inmates.
  • NEVER RESIST PHYSICALLY. Keep your cool.
  • Remember that the law allows all people to confront their accusers. If you accuse any person of police brutality, you will have to face them in a court of law.

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