The Brandon Whitehead case has brought to the forefront the potential for police misconduct in Chicago. The city is already notorious for its violence and gun crime. However, there is an even more disturbing trend where law enforcement agents are actually breaking the law themselves. Because the police are given the power to gather evidence, they can sometimes abuse this power in order to hide their own misconduct.
The courts are also sometimes too willing to listen to everything that the police officers say without questioning whether or not they are true. This means that defendants who have a criminal record may not find it easy to convince the judge and jury that they were the victims of a crime committed by the police. This is not something that is just unique to Chicago. It happens in many other cities across the country. Only the best lawyers are able to overcome these challenges.
Victims of Police Corruption and Violence
According to the information that is currently being distributed by the Citizen Police data project, there are many cases that are not fully investigated. Even when the police are found to be in the wrong, it is rare that they get more than a slap on the wrist. At other times, the police officers get angry with the people they are arresting and react in ways that are way over the top. When the suspect retaliates, the police can cause trouble for them by claiming that they were attacked.
The self-defense excuse is commonly used by police officers. Evidence suggests that it has a high chance of success. Every time the officers claim self-defense, they tend to be given the benefit of the doubt by the jury. There is a complaints procedure. However, that procedure sometimes does not work because it takes a long time and requires concrete evidence from the person accusing the officers of misconduct. Those who are accused of retaliating against the police must get a competent criminal defense team to help them fight the charges.
There are situations in which the court is found guilty of misconduct but then they end up coming back to work after a few days of being suspended. Others are not suspended at all but the information goes on their record if they are found to have behaved in an unprofessional manner.
That is why some people have come to the conclusion that there must be certain reforms to deal with the published records of misconduct including:
- Investigating all alleged offenses
- Making sure that the public is aware of the findings of guilt or innocence
- Handing down punishments that fit the crime
- Barring corrupt officials from serving again in the police force
- Forcing the police agencies to pay restitution when their officers misbehave on the job
Otherwise, the public will continue losing confidence in the police officers. That means that crimes will no longer get reported or investigated since local citizens believe that the entire system is corrupt. For instance, cases of weapons charges often require the cooperation of the local community. If the local community feels that the police are not on their side, they will not bother helping them.
Advice for Victims and Their Families
Although some jurisdictions do not allow video evidence in court, the media plays an important part in shaming the police agencies if their officers are caught behaving in unprofessional ways. Even where the evidence is not admissible in court, the court of public opinion might force the agencies to come to the negotiating table. Do not engage with them until you have contacted David Freidberg Attorney at Law at 312-560-7100.
(image courtesy of Nicolas Barbier Garreau)