When law enforcement personal violate someone’s civil rights, they should be held accountable. At the very least, they should be expected to cover the damages that arise as a result of their wrongdoing. That doesn’t mean, however, that they always do.
If you want to hold a government agency liable for infringing on your rights, you’ll have to present compelling evidence that a violation did, in fact, occur. You’ll also have to prove that you incurred associated damages.
The circumstances surrounding the incident will ultimately determine what kinds of evidence you’ll need to build a strong claim. Generally speaking, though, you’ll likely have to gather some combination of the following:
1. Video Footage
Considering the rapid rate at which police departments are equipping their officers with body worn cameras (BWCs), there’s a chance your altercation—and, subsequently, the violation of your rights—was captured on video. Depending on where the incident occurred, it may have also been recorded by one or more surveillance cameras in the vicinity.
2. Eyewitness Testimony
While statements from those who saw what happened won’t be considered irrefutable evidence of a violation, they could at least corroborate your own story. This, in turn, will bolster your credibility before a judge and jury.
3. Official Documentation
When an interaction with law enforcement personnel escalates, there is almost always a lengthy paper trail. There might be an arrest report, for example, as well as a statement from the prosecutor, a court order, indictment information, and a probation or parole record.
If any such documents exist, make sure to obtain copies as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances and whether the records implicate the department, they might be vulnerable to tampering.
4. Relevant Records Highlighting the Damages
After proving your civil rights were violated, you’ll have to demonstrate how you suffered actual losses as a result. Did you miss work and subsequently lose one or more paychecks? Did you sustain injuries and end up incurring hefty medical bills? Regardless of the specifics, you’ll need to present documentation that corresponds to the damages you claim in order be compensated for them.
5. Medical Records
If you were physically hurt in the altercation, your medical records will help prove as much. Examples include hospital logs, diagnostic images, photographs of any visible wounds, and prescriptions.
If you were traumatized by the incident, you can highlight the extent of your emotional distress by presenting psychological evaluations. As long as you’re comfortable sharing such records, they could strengthen your claim significantly. In that same vein, detailed journal entries about the challenges you face because of the violation could also prove valuable.
Speak with a Jackson Civil Right Lawyer
For help building your civil rights claim, turn to Brown Bass & Jeter, PLLC. Backed by decades of experience, our team is equipped to take on even the largest and most powerful government entities. To schedule your free case review with a civil rights attorney in Jackson, complete our Contact Form or call 601-487-8448.