Atlanta Police Brutality Lawsuits

Stephen R. Hasner
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
May 10, 2024

NOTE: Our law firm does not handle these cases. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

The police are supposed to protect and serve, no injure and kill. Unfortunately, there are times when police officers cross the line and cause considerable harm. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to police brutality or a violation of your civil rights, contact an attorney for immediate legal assistance.

What’s happened to you is inexcusable. While money will not turn back time, it can change your life and provide a little bit of financial justice.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer If I’ve Been the Victim of Police Brutality?

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer If I’ve Been the Victim of Police Brutality?

The city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department will go to great lengths to minimize or justify any allegations of police misconduct. In order to hold the government and offending officer accountable, you’ll have to take a stand and be aggressive in your pursuit of compensation.

The only way to recover the compensation you deserve is by backing your accusations with facts, solid evidence, and strong legal arguments. It’s critically important to enlist the help of an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney for this process.

What is Police Brutality?

What is Police Brutality?

Police brutality is defined to mean the “unwarranted or excessive and often illegal use of force against civilians.” Put another way, police brutality occurs when a police officer harms a civilian or violates their rights by exercising more force than is necessary under the circumstances.

In Atlanta, police brutality can manifest in a lot of different ways. Examples include:

  • Assault and battery
  • Wrongful death
  • False imprisonment
  • False arrests
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Emotional abuse, and
  • Physical threats.

Under federal law, police brutality is illegal. That’s because, under the Fourth Amendment, you have the Constitutional right to be free from excessive force.

What is Excessive Force?

There’s no hard and fast definition. Rather, excessive force is a subjective assessment. The degree of force that’s necessary for an officer to do his job can – and does – vary from one situation to another.

And, it’s important to know, that the Supreme Court has acknowledged that “the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat.” In other words, using force is a necessary component of a police officer’s job.

It really just comes down to determining whether the force exercised in a given situation was reasonable or excessive. 

Police officers are taught to follow the “Use-of-Force Continuum.” This is an approach that helps to ensure that excessive force is not used. Strategies in the continuum include:

  • Physical presence: the officer’s mere presence controls the situation
  • Verbalization: the officer uses non-threatening requests and direct orders to maintain control
  • Empty-Hand Control: the officer uses his body, including his hands, arms, and feet, to physically control a civilian
  • Less Lethal Methods: the officer employs the threat of a weapon (e.g., baton, gun) or use of a tool (e.g., tasers, police dogs) to gain control
  • Lethal Force: the officer uses force that can be deadly to control a situation (e.g., firing a handgun)

Ideally, officers will move through each option in order, only increasing the use of force when absolutely necessary. Excessive force occurs when police move through this schedule too rapidly or simply skip steps.

How Common is Police Brutality?

In 2019, 1,099 people across the country were killed because of police brutality. According to Mapping Police Violence, there were only 27 days that year without a police brutality death.

Sadly, fatal instances of police brutality are all too common in Georgia. Between 2013 and 2019, 265 people in the state died at the hands of excessive force. At least 52 of those fatal instances occurred in Fulton County and DeKalb County. The vast majority of these deaths were the result of a gunshot wound. However, victims of police brutality in Georgia also died as a result of asphyxiation, being struck by a vehicle, a taser, or some combination of those things.

Atlanta Pays Millions to Settle Police Brutality Cases

Every year, thousands of civilians sustain physical injuries and are emotionally traumatized because of a police officer’s harmful misconduct. It happens right here in Atlanta with great frequency. And, the city pays a lot of money to settle complaints and lawsuits filed by victims of police brutality. Between 2015 and 2017, Atlanta agreed to pay $3.9 million in settlements. 

What Do I Have to Prove If I Want to File a Police Brutality Lawsuit in Atlanta?

Typically, police officers enjoy something called “qualified immunity” for what they do on the job. This means that, in most situations, you can’t sue a cop for something they did while they were acting in their capacity as an officer of the law.

However, thanks to Section 1983 cases, there are circumstances when qualified immunity won’t protect an officer from a lawsuit. One of those situations involves situations where an officer is accused of breaking the law or violating a civilian’s civil rights.

Police brutality is a violation of your civil rights. So, in order to hold a police officer accountable, you’ll have to be able to provide solid evidence and support for your allegations. Evidence that can prove to be beneficial in police brutality cases in Atlanta includes:

  • Video footage of the alleged incident of brutality
  • Photographs of the incident
  • Eye-witness testimony and statements
  • Medical reports revealing the injuries and trauma you’ve suffered as a result of excessive force
  • Demonstrating that the officer in question has a history of misconduct or pushing the line, and
  • Testimony or statements from current and/or former law enforcement officers citing concern over the degree of force that was exercised.

How Long Do I Have to File a Police Brutality Lawsuit in Georgia?

All personal injury cases in Georgia are subject to a statute of limitations. Typically, you’ll have up to two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit and demand compensation. However, if you intend to include the government as a defendant in your suit, you’ll have to act fast. Government claims are subject to accelerated timelines. 

Author Stephen Headshot
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
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Stephen Hasner is the founder and managing partner of Hasner Law PC. Since being licensed in Florida in 1997 and in Georgia in 1999, Stephen has worked tirelessly to help Georgia residents navigate the legal process following a serious injury. This includes injuries sustained at work, in motor vehicle accidents, and in cases of personal injury. The team at Hasner Law is dedicated to securing compensation for their clients who have been injured through no fault of their own.