How To Take Action Against the Misuse of Police Dogs
The police can use canine units as part of their policing.Police cannot use excessive force to arrest someone, and dog bites are a form of force.To determine whether the use of force was excessive, you need to look at the surrounding facts.You can bring an excessive force lawsuit if you have been bitten.You can try to get money compensation.
Step 1: Take care of your injuries.
You will need proof of your injuries to bring a successful excessive force claim.After receiving medical treatment, you need to document them.Take photos from many different angles.The lighting needs to be sufficient to capture the severity of the bite marks.You can get medical records.Since they document the extent of your injuries, these records will be important in a lawsuit.
Step 2: There is a video of the incident.
Many businesses have video cameras.If the dog attacked you near a convenience store, stop in and ask if you can get a copy of the video for the day and time.The store might not allow it to be turned over.It is possible to get a copy of the video after you start your lawsuit.If the store won't turn the video over, ask who you should talk to.
Step 3: There is proof of financial injury.
The dog bites can cause financial loss.If you lost time at work or spent money on dog bites, you can be reimbursed.You need to have proof of income.Pay stubs, W-2 form, and proof of self-employed income can be obtained.Receipts for money spent on medical treatment, including hospital bills and doctor bills.
Step 4: Take care of your emotional injuries.
You can be compensated for the emotional harm of the attack as well.You can prove emotional harm by keeping a journal.In the journal, you can document how the injuries affect your daily life, including how they interfere with your sleep and mobility, as well as your emotions.At your trial, have your counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists testify.Your friends and family should be able to tell you how your mood has changed since the injury.
Step 5: Discuss your case with an attorney.
If you want to know if you have a solid case, you should meet with a civil rights attorney who can analyze your circumstances.Contact your local or state bar association to get a referral to an attorney.You should call and schedule a consultation once you have the name of an attorney.
Step 6: Think about hiring a lawyer.
It can be difficult to learn everything you need to know in order to bring a successful claim.Although you can only meet with the lawyer once, you should consider hiring him or her to represent you.Ask how much the lawyer charges.If you win a civil rights lawsuit, the defendants may have to pay your attorney's fees and reimburse you for the costs of the case.The lawyer will only be paid if you win or settle the lawsuit.32% of the amount you win is given to the lawyer.
Step 7: What law do you want to work under?
Some laws require an exhaustion of remedies while others don't.If the law requires you to exhaust all administrative remedies, you must file an administrative complaint with the proper authority.This could be the Department of Justice in federal cases.It could be the police department in a state case.Some laws do not require exhaustion of remedies before a lawsuit is brought.This process may not be necessary if you work within one of those laws.If you want to bring a lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for excessive force, you have to exhaust administrative remedies.There is no exhaustion requirement if you want to file a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Step 8: There is a federal complaint with the DOJ.
The DOJ usually handles federal administrative complaints.If you want to file a complaint, you need to either access a form or create one that contains all of the required information.You need to send your complaint to the right person.The DOJ website has up-to-date information.Your personal information, the name of the law enforcement agency, a description of wrongful conduct, contact information of witnesses, and an explanation of why you believe you were discriminated should all be included in your complaint.
Step 9: You need to fill out a state complaint form.
Determine where your complaint needs to be sent if you are filing a state complaint.A complaint can be lodged with the police force's internal affairs division.There are complaint forms available at multiple police station locations.You can file a complaint online.The location of the incident, your personal information, contact information for witnesses, and a description of actions that led to you making the complaint are all required.
Step 10: The complaint should be investigated.
The state agency will investigate the complaint after it is received.Informal, incomplete, frivolous, and formal complaints can be found in the city.They will conduct an investigation if the complaint is formal.The officer controlling the dog will be interviewed by the internal affairs department.The site may be visited by the department.The internal affairs department will write up their findings once the investigation is complete.
Step 11: Wait for a final disposition.
Someone else will review the findings after they are forwarded along the chain.The person will make a decision based on the findings.You will be notified of the results once a final disposition is made.If you don't agree with the findings or disposition of your complaint, you can file a lawsuit in court.
Step 12: Analyze your case.
It's hard to win excessive force lawsuits.An accident cannot give rise to a lawsuit if the officer had the dog bite you.You have to argue that the use of the police dogs was objectively unreasonable.The analysis focuses on what the officer knew at the time.The following factors will be looked at by a court to determine if using the dog was reasonable.The dog's use is more likely to be reasonable if that is the case.How long did the dog bite you?The longer the duration, the less likely excessive force was used.If a dog bit you for a long time than it was necessary to subdue you, then you have a stronger argument that the dog bite was unreasonable.Did you threaten the officers?The police use of a dog is likely to be reasonable if that is the case.How serious was your offense?The more serious the crime, the more likely it is that the dog was reasonable.Were you suspected of having a weapon?The use of the dog is more likely to be reasonable if that is the case.Did you get a warning before the event?It's more likely that the use of force was reasonable if you did.
Step 13: Discuss who else can be sued.
You can file a lawsuit against the officer who used the dog.If you think the police department, town, or county are responsible for your injuries, you can file a lawsuit.You should talk to your attorney about adding them as defendants.The police department might have been negligent in training its officers when to use dogs, or in choosing the dogs to add to its K9 unit.The town could be violating your rights by not supervising the police or adopting a K9 policy that is unconstitutional.
Step 14: Make a complaint.
If you want to file a lawsuit, you should draft a complaint that identifies you and the officer who used excessive force.You should give the factual background of your lawsuit and make a demand for monetary compensation in the complaint.If your court has a printed complaint form, you can fill it out.You can use the complaint form to file a lawsuit in federal court.
Step 15: You can file a complaint.
You should make copies of the complaint once you have completed it.The original must be filed with the court clerk.You can file the complaint in the federal court.You can fill out other forms at the courthouse.Some courts will require you to fill out a form stating that you are representing yourself in the lawsuit.You should ask the court clerk for the forms you need.$400 is the cost to file a lawsuit in federal court.If you can't afford the fee, you should complete a fee waiver form.
Step 16: Notices be served on the defendants.
You can download a summons from the court's website and complete it.The clerk has to sign the summons.A person from the U.S.The marshal can deliver a copy of the complaint.Unless the court orders it, the marshals don't make delivery.If you are not indigent or a seaman, you will have to hire a private process server.You can find the process server on the internet or in the phone book.They charge between 45 and 75 per service.The person making service must fill out a form.It should be on the back of the summons.You need to keep a copy of it for your records.
Step 17: Read the defense's response.
The defendants have a limited amount of time to respond.Typically, the officer will try to get the case dismissed on the grounds that he or she has qualified immunity, which protects him or her from being sued unless it was clearly established federal law that using police dogs in your situation was illegal.The doctrine is so drastic that it allows most officers to escape being sued.You will get a copy of the motion to dismiss from the police officer.
Step 18: The defendants moved to dismiss.
In order to keep the case from being dismissed, you or your attorney will need to file a response.You will argue that the use of the police dogs was in violation of a clearly established federal law.You can show the law was clearly established by pointing to a Supreme Court or appellate court decision that establishes use of a police dog in circumstances similar to yours was illegal.Your court might have held that an officer must give a warning before using a dog.They cannot get qualified immunity if they don't.The judge is likely to hold a hearing about the qualified immunity defense.The officer has the right to immediately appeal if he or she loses the qualified immunity argument.
Step 19: You can participate in formal discovery.
In order to prepare for trial, you and the other party will have an opportunity to exchange information.You have a chance to determine the strength of the other party's case and find out what they will say at trial.Depositions are in-person interviews with witnesses and parties conducted under oath.The answers can be used in court.Interrogatories are written questions that are posed to witnesses.The answers can be used in court if they are given under oath.There are formal requests for documents that are not publicly available to you.Body camera footage, emails, text messages, and phone records are examples of documents you might want.The other party must admit or deny the requests for admissions.What needs to be argued at trial can be narrowed down through this process.
Step 20: A motion for summary judgement should be defeated.
The defendants will try to end the litigation by filing a motion for summary judgment.To succeed, the defendants must prove that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.If every factual assumption was made in your favor, you would still lose the case.You can file your own defense against the motion.Evidence and affidavits showing the court that there are factual discrepancies that need to be settled at trial will be included in your responsive motion.If a cross-complaint was filed against you, you could file your own motion for summary judgment to try and end the litigation.
Step 21: Consider a settlement.
The defendants might want to settle the lawsuit if your case is strong and you win on qualified immunity.Settlement will save you money and time.In order to avoid bad publicity and exposure, most police forces will want to settle with you.Depending on the severity of your case, you may be able to use this information to get a good settlement out of the police.Determine the absolute minimum you would be willing to give up.If you sued for $100,000, then you might be willing to settle for less than that.This is your point of departure.You need to know when to get up from negotiations.Unless you feel comfortable with the amount of compensation you have gotten, you shouldn't settle the case.A walkaway point can be decided by talking with your lawyer.The number depends on the strength of your evidence.
Step 22: It is possible to try mediation.
If informal negotiation tactics don't work, try mediation.A neutral third party will sit down with you and the other party to discuss the case.He or she will try to find a solution to your dispute.The mediation will not take sides or impose their own opinions.
Step 23: Continue to trial.
You might not get your day in court for years.If an appeal is involved, it could take over a year to argue the issue.The jury must be unanimous in its decision at the trial.If you were arrested because you actually committed a crime, then you should discuss with your lawyer whether to ask for a bench trial, which will be heard by the judge instead of a jury.If you were found guilty of a crime, a jury might not be sympathetic to you.You will be awarded damages if you win the trial.You could make an appeal if you lose at trial.Appeals can only be filed when the judge made a legal error in your case.If your judge applied the wrong law, you could have a quality appeal.You and your lawyer will have to file an appellate brief within 30 and 60 days after your trial ends.
Step 24: You can request statistics from the police department.
Some police departments have been accused of using police dogs in a way that targets African Americans and Hispanics.Statistics should be kept on the number of arrests that involve a dog bite and the race of the suspect bitten.You need to try to get the statistics.You can use your city's public disclosure request process to make a request to the police department.Call your mayor's office.
Step 25: Send letters to local newspapers.
Talk to the public about the misuse of police dogs.To emphasize that there are safer ways to use dogs, be sure to mention statistics.The police could have the dog corner the suspect and bark.It is a good idea to write letters to the editor of the newspaper.If you want to write an effective letter, you should get to the point and not use a lot of words.A letter should not be more than 300 words.It is important that you acknowledge the risks the police take for your safety.You will get credibility from this.Use your statistics to argue that the police are using police dogs.Suggest how the dogs could be used without sacrificing officer safety.Since email is the standard way to communicate, you should send the letter by email.
Step 26: Change the law of your city.
The police department could be restricted in the use of their dogs.The city council operates in a different way.Individual members can introduce bills for the whole council to consider.You should meet with a member of the council who is sympathetic to changing the way the police use dogs.You can attend meetings to present your findings and advocate for change if the bill comes up for discussion.
Step 27: Bringing a class action lawsuit is a good idea.
You could bring a class action lawsuit if your city does not change its K9 policy.A group of people who have been injured by police dogs could file a class action.There is a court order to stop the use of police dogs.When government officials are resistant, injunctions can be an effective way to bring about change.Unlike police officers, cities and counties can't claim qualified immunity so you might be able to get an injunction to stop the use of the dogs.If you want to bring a class action lawsuit, you should talk to a civil rights attorney.
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