Timothy O. McCalep

What should you do if law enforcement mistreated or abused you?

Many people have this idea that anything that police do during an arrest or while a person is incarcerated is a necessary evil. That simply isn't the case. It's very easy for law enforcement to violate an accused person's civil rights or even the law while arresting someone. People who are already incarcerated can also face serious abuse, harassment and other mistreatment from law enforcement and corrections officers.

Regardless of whether a person gets convicted of a crime, he or she still has basic rights. No one should be subjected to physical, sexual or emotional abuse and harassment just because they are in state custody. It can be terrifying to stand up to law enforcement after abuse or assault, but doing so can protect you and others who could be abused by the same officers in the future.

Police brutality, excess force and abuse are more common than people think

Many prisons have terrible records when it comes to inmate rights. Far too many people overlook these issues, imagining that incarcerated individuals likely deserve the abuse. The reality is that people can end up in police custody for a range of reasons, including getting incorrectly identified as a criminal or shoplifting to feed a family. Law enforcement have beaten or even shot people during standard traffic stops who didn't pose real threats to officers or the public.

Working as a corrections officer or a police official is stressful work, and those who can't comport themselves properly while in the field should likely seek a new career path. Unfortunately, those who abuse or mistreat the individuals that they arrest or keep in custody often act with impunity, because the victims may not realize they have the right to assert their rights and even prosecute or sue the officers after a breach of their civil liberties.

Georgia has a history of law enforcement issues

Earlier this year, two police officers from the Gwinnett County Police Department got fired and investigated when video surfaced of them beating and kicking man already in handcuffs. His alleged offense was that his vehicle smelled like marijuana. Officers claimed that he was resisting arrest and that his history included getting stopped with a loaded gun in his vehicle previously.

Video filmed by an outside witness showed an officer punching the victim in the face as he exited the vehicle with his hands up. Another officer kicked him when he was on the ground, later in the arrest process. This degree of unnecessary force isn't common, but it does happen. Those who get mistreated or brutalized by law enforcement need to push back legally to assert their rights and stop this kind of violence in the future.

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