Queens Drug Crime Defense Attorney

Excessive Force Claims

When law enforcement officers in the greater New York area used excessive force while conducting an investigation or making an arrest, serious injuries and damages can result. To add insult to injury, after the law enforcement uses excessive force he will often trump up charges against the individual injured in the incident.

In many case, these officers are only caught because of the eye witness testimony of independent civilian witnesses. The best evidence of excessive force involves surveillance tapes from area businesses, or the images captured on the video capabilities of the modern mobile phone.

Attorney for Claims of Excessive Force by the NYPD

Rochelle Berliner understands the system from both sides. For more than 12 years she worked as a prosecutor in the Office of Special Narcotics in New York City. In 2005 she started her own law firm exclusively devoted to representing individuals charged with serious criminal offenses and civil rights claims involving police misconduct.

With years of experience, Rochelle Berliner has successfully represented clients in civil rights cases filed in federal court involving NYPD officers planting evidence and using excessive force. Several of these cases garnered national attention.

NYPD Excessive Force Information Center

Back to top

Types of Excessive Force Cases in New York City

Excessive force can take many forms and cause many different kinds of injuries including:

  • using a taser or stun gun repeatedly or in a manner that caused injury;
  • using choke holds or other maneuvers likely to result in physical injury
  • a beating causing broken bones or internal injuries;
  • a police shooting; or
  • slamming someone to the ground in manner that causes serious bodily injury.

Back to top

Legal Definition of "Excessive Force"

The term excessive force is defined as using more force than is reasonably necessary under the circumstances to make a lawful arrest. Whether the amount of force used is considered excessive is measured by determining the amount of force a prudent and reasonable law enforcement officer would have used under the circumstances.

When an officer uses excessive force, those actions can constitute a violation of the criminal laws in the State of New York. Additionally, a claim of excessive force involves a violation of an individual's civil rights against cruelty and protection of laws as provided by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Back to top

NYPD and Excessive Force Cases

From 2007 to 2009 the number of officers with NYPD who received civilian complaints were up nearly 50%. In 2009 alone, nearly 315 of the 35,000 of these officers were enrolled in a monitoring program created by the NYPD because of excessive force claims. Despite the spike in complaints for excessive force, less than 1% of the officers were enrolled in this program. Several officers with NYPD have been required to enroll in the program more than once.

Many incidents of excessive force go unreported because citizens are afraid of retaliation. Statistics analyzed by the Daily News shows that nearly 20% of all stops made by NYPD involve the "use of force" for 2006. Even more telling is the fact that in 90% of those cases the individual subjected to "use of force" was not arrested.

Many of those cases involved an officer drawing his weapon. In fact in four out of every five cases in which a weapon will pulled no arrest was made. In the vast majority of those cases involving a gun being drawn the officers justified that "use of force" because they suspected the individual possessed a weapon even when no weapon was actually found. The NYPD has refused to release the statistics for "use of force" reports in the years before or after 2006.

Back to top

Resources for Excessive Force Cases in NYC

Statistics for Excessive Force Complaints against NYPD officers - Article from the Daily News about excessive force complaints against NYPD officers from 2007 through 2009.

What is Excessive Force / ABC News - Articles presents information on various legal definitions for the term excessive force, discusses the shockingly low rate that police departments take any action after a citizen's formal complaint, the “force continuum” used by certain agencies, and why frustrated officers often rationalize their illegal conduct at "street justice."

Back to top

Law Office | New York Lawyer for Excessive Police Force Claims

Queens civil rights attorney Rochelle Berliner has more than 20 years of experience in the criminal justice system. Contact her to discuss your case involving police brutality or excessive force. She takes an aggressive approach to handling excessive force and police misconduct cases to protect her clients at every turn.

Call or submit an online form today for a free consultation if you were the victim of excessive police force in any borough in the New York City Metropolitan area, including Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx.