While the conduct of police officers has been of much focus in our nation within the past year, some studies indicate that the number of people killed by police are increasing, not decreasing. While there are no national statistics on this matter, the Guardian estimated that the number of those killed was approximately 500 in New York City and Cincinnati in 2015 alone. While Washington state does not nearly have the same population and crime rates as New York City, a study undertaken by the Seattle Times states that the number of people killed in Washington state was 213 between the years of 2005-2014.
During that time period, only one officer has been criminally charged in state court with the illegal use of deadly force on the job. Additionally, the vast majority of the cases were deemed legally justified by internal reviews. A disproportionate number of the deaths were minorities.
In 1986, the Washington State legislature decided that police would not be prosecuted for killing someone in the line of duty as long as it was done in “good faith”/ without malice. See RCW 9A.16.040. Reasons of deadly force that have been codified into the statute include: when coming into another officer's aid, to arrest/apprehend someone an officer reasonably believes has committed a felony, and to prevent the escape of a person from jail.
Additionally, much of how when police can use deadly force has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court case of Tennessee v. Gardner, which held that police could use deadly force to apprehend a suspect only when they had a belief they or others faced a significant threat of death or serious injury.
Help for Police Misconduct
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for police to use excessive force against suspects, fabricate evidence, and even cover for each other in times of misconduct. Police misconduct comes in many forms, including: beatings, kickings, and unreasonable use of weapons such as tasers, false arrests, coerced confessions, fabricating evidence, and perjury.
If you have been a victim of police misconduct/brutality, you generally have three types of claims:
1) Constitutional claims;
2) Civil tort claims for things like assault;
3) State criminal claims.
The U.S. Constitution and Washington Constitution gives you certain civil rights (ie. freedom from cruel and unusual punishment) and you may file a lawsuit based on those claims. Section 1983 of the United States Code gives victims the right to sue people who violate their constitutional rights while acting under color of state law. Additionally, you may also challenge the evidence that has been obtained against you based on certain alleged violations.
"Let My Extensive Experience as a Former Prosecutor Work For You."
Seattle criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi handles all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, including traffic stop, stop and frisk, and police misconduct cases. As a former prosecutor in Seattle, Mr. Karimi will use his background and experience to help you to challenge any improperly seized evidence. He understands what it is like to be on the other side and will use his experience to work out the best possible resolution for you. If you feel you have been subject to improper police conduct, do not hesitate to Contact a King County Criminal Defense Attorney. Call 206-621-8777 to schedule a free initial consultation.