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.