It is unlawful for police to use more force than is reasonable. When the excessive use of force results in wrongful death or serious injury, the lawyers at Budge & Heipt work together with forensic investigators, medical specialists, law enforcement experts, and others to uncover the true facts and circumstances surrounding the events.  We have won multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for family members of wrongful death victims and seriously injured individuals.

Our notable cases include an $8 million federal jury verdict for a woman who was batoned, pepper-sprayed and shot in the shoulder, settlements totalling $5.5 million to a man who was shot in his own home, $1.75 million to the family of a man who was shot in a public roadway, $1.6 million to the family of a mentally-ill man who was beaten by police, hooded, and held down until he died, $1.75 million to a schizophrenic man who was brain-injured by the excessive force of a group of police officers, and $1 million to the parents of a man who was beaten, shot with a “less-lethal” gun, pepper sprayed, and held face-down before he died.

The issue of police brutality has received significant media attention in recent years, and for good reason: law enforcement officers must be held accountable when they use excessive force. The Constitution prohibits the use of excessive force, and a federal civil rights statute permits lawsuits to protect the rights of people who have been harmed by unconstitutional uses of force by police. The lawyers at Budge & Heipt seek to hold police accountable when too much force is used. We seek compensation for victims of excessive force and, when excessive force causes death, we use the legal process to seek answers and obtain compensation for surviving family members.

An experienced lawyer will consider many factors in deciding how to bring an excessive force case against a police officer and/or his or her agency. Strategy is critical. Against whom should the suit be filed? Where should suit be filed (state court or federal court)? In cases where excessive force causes death, should the estate of the victim be the only plaintiff or should surviving family members sue individually as well? Should economic damages (e.g., lost earnings or net accumulation to the estate) be sought? How detailed should the allegations in the lawsuit be plead? Are there witnesses, forensic evidence, and other information that can be gathered and reviewed before suit is filed? By when must the lawsuit be filed? These are among the many important questions that an experienced police brutality attorney can help answer.

Some people believe that an internal investigation that “clears” a law enforcement officer from wrongdoing prevents a civil rights lawsuit for excessive force. This is not so. At Budge & Heipt, we have repeatedly sued—and obtained excellent results—even when an internal investigation results in a finding “absolving” an officer from having used excessive force.

Internal investigations are not binding in a civil matter and may not even be admissible in court. The sad reality is that police agencies often fail to conduct full, thorough, and adequate investigations.

Sometimes agencies fail to interview critical witnesses, conduct forensic analysis, and take other steps that are necessary to fully and objectively evaluate what happened. This is why victims and their families need an experienced advocate.

At Budge & Heipt, we have handled excessive force cases involving police shootings. We have handled excessive force cases involving the use of “less lethal’ weapons, such as so-called “beanbag guns” and tasers. We have pursued police brutality cases involving the use of pepper spray and batons. We have sued for excessive force when officers hold a person down in a way that impairs breathing, where they use spit hoods, and where individuals are “hog tied” or improperly restrained. And we have obtained millions of dollars in compensation for victims of excessive force and their families. Our results can be tied to our experience and ability to “read between the lines,” hard work, and our willingness to go to trial if the defense refuses to pay an appropriate settlement.

In cases of police brutality, one of the great advantages of a civil lawsuit is the ability of the attorneys to seek information under the court’s rules of “discovery.” Without a lawsuit, family members may have limited information. A properly-plead lawsuit opens the door to discovering much more. We can demand documents, training records, and investigative reports. We can take depositions—questioning officers under oath about the details of the force used. At Budge & Heipt, we have deposed hundreds of people in all manner of excessive force cases—police officers, eyewitnesses, law enforcement trainers, supervisors, and others. The lawyers at Budge & Heipt prepare thoroughly for every deposition—conducting the depositions strategically, thoughtfully and, when necessary, aggressively. These depositions can lay the foundation for overcoming common defenses and, ultimately, put us in a position to win.

As advocates for victims of police brutality, we work hard to advance our client’s position in the litigation. We hire experts of all stripes to assist us in the litigation, including high-level law enforcement officers, forensic analysts, scene reconstructionists, doctors who can assist us with determining the nature and extent of injuries and the cause of death, and even experts to analyze pieces of physical evidence. In short, when we take a case against the police, we pursue it with care, diligence, thoughtfulness, and aggression.

If you or a loved one is a victim of police brutality, abuse or excessive force that caused serious injury or wrongful death, please contact our office to talk about your case. There is absolutely no cost or obligation to do so.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of serious injury and/or death at the hands of police or in jail or prison, tell us about your case.