Arizona police officers are charged with protecting and serving their communities. Even in situations where an individual is suspected of engaging in illegal activity, officers are expected to carry out their duties in ways that will not place anyone in undue danger. Sadly, some officers cross the line and engage in behaviors that qualify as police brutality. Anyone who has been a victim of police overreach may have legal options for legal recourse.
In 2014, police in another state were involved in an incident involving a 43-year-old man allegedly selling cigarettes illegally. According to the officers, the man refused to comply with their instructions. In an effort to place the unarmed, African-American man under arrest, one of the officers applied a restraining hold. The man complained about not being able to breathe. At some point, an ambulance was called.
While in the ambulance, the man suffered a fatal cardiac event. Cellphone video taken by bystanders purportedly shows the officer applying a choke hold, which is against department policy. An autopsy listed the cause of death as homicide, attributed partially to the restraint technique. Though the officer did not face criminal charges in the man's death, the victim's family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for an estimated $5.9 million.
The officer still faces a disciplinary hearing that could result in such actions ranging from losing accrued vacation time up to losing his position with the police department. The officer has been restricted to a desk position since the 2014 death. Anytime someone in Arizona suffers harm due to suspected police brutality, grounds may exist for a civil lawsuit. Similarly, those who lose a loved one due to an abuse of police authority may have a basis for filing a wrongful death claim against the party or parties deemed responsible for their loss.