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Police Misconduct and Section 1983

Published in Criminal Law on May 11, 2020.

Police officers have many duties to perform and a broad spectrum of power to carry out those duties.

However, under the Constitution, there are limits to how far officers can go when enforcing the law.

A statute created in 1871 called Section 1983 helps protect an individual’s rights in cases where police officers act in an unlawful manner that deprives victims of their civil rights protected under the U.S. Constitution or federal statutes.

Victims of police misconduct can sometimes rely on this rule for cases they would like to bring to court. The statute intends to curb misconduct of state actors, or people with governmental authority, such as police officers. 

The most common Section 1983 claims individuals bring against police officers are:

  • False arrests
  • Unreasonable/excessive force
  • Malicious prosecution

Currently, Indianapolis is experiencing protests against police brutality. One of the first circumstances behind these protests happened on May 7th, 2020, when an officer was accused of shooting a man he had already tased. 

The incident occurred on May 6th, 2020. Officers described Dreasjon “Sean” Reed as driving recklessly. Reed was streaming the entire event on Facebook Live and was allegedly being egged on by his audience. 

After some time spent in the chase, an officer called it off because of how fast Reed was driving. Another officer spotted Reed off of 62nd and Michigan and followed him to a parking lot where a foot chase happened.

According to police, the officer in pursuit of Reed fired his taser but reported it as ineffective and then fired his gun.

Family, friends, and citizens in Indianapolis gathered in protest on May 7th. However, most were asked to stay home and take to social media to share their feelings on the matter. 200 people were counted in attendance at the early morning protest and were asked to wear gloves and masks.Sources:

Findlaw.com, IndyStar

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