RIGHT OF THE DAY: Right to sue police officers who violate your rights

YOUR RIGHT OF THE DAY: You have the right to sue a police officer for using his/her authority to violate your rights. 1U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 1983

Photo: Occupy Wall Street demonstration Dec 2011. From Bigstockphoto.com

A man in New York filed a lawsuit last week against NYPD police officers who he claims improperly arrested him and held him at the police station, all for merely speaking with an Occupy Wall Street protester at a demonstration last year, according to the lawsuit.

The man is a 74 year old lawyer who was a “passerby” and “not involved in the protest in any way,” but when he saw the demonstration, stopped to chat with one of the protesters. He was apparently not obstructing traffic at all when an officer asked him to move along. The man refused the officer’s repeated requests for him to move, after which the officer arrested him and took him to the police station.

He was charged with disorderly conduct, a charge which was later dropped.

The man is now suing the officers involved as well as the City of New York for compensation for violations of his rights of liberty and freedom of movement without good reason. A principle of law allows you to often sue not only those directly involved in the incident, but their employer as well (in this case, the City). The rationale behind allowing a suit against the city is that as the employer, the city is partly responsible for its employees’ (police officers) behavior because it is required to properly train and discipline officers to ensure they comply with the law. This gives the city a major incentive to keep its officers in line.

We will follow this lawsuit and let you know the outcome.


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