In the wake of the tragic deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island and 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, police departments have come under heavy scrutiny for their policies and procedures regarding the use of force during the course of performing their jobs.
There has been much public debate on whether the police actions in the aforementioned cases and others were reasonable and justified. All Americans are afforded numerous rights and protection under the United States Constitution. When there is a violation of these civil rights, private citizens have a tool to enforce their constitutional protection, as provided in 42 U.S.C. 1983. This statute allows individuals to bring a civil cause of action to recover for the violation of these constitutionally preserved rights.
These actions are commonly referred to as “Section 1983″ actions. In order for a private citizen to have a viable 1983 claim, a state actor operating under color of law must have committed the violation. State Actors are typically government employees such as police officers. Operating under Color of Law has been defined by the courts as a misuse of a power which is possessed by the state actor by virtue of state law.
Most Section 1983 claims are litigated in the federal courts, although they can be brought in state court as well. The most common section 1983 claims are those accusing police officers with excessive force in violation of the Fourth amendment’s bar on unreasonable seizures. Here, at the The Grandelli Firm we have successfully represented people who have been subject to unreasonable displays of excessive force by local police officers. We have recovered settlements on behalf of our clients to compensate them for their physical and emotional injuries.
Our office has also represented individuals who have been subject to false arrest and unlawful searches of their person, automobile or home. We look forward to helping people and their families obtain just compensation for their damages due to unjust and unconstitutional police actions.