10 Examples of Police Misconduct to Refer to for Your Case 

Police misconduct is an issue that has been receiving increased attention throughout the country. It seems as if there are new accusations of police misconduct each week. Protestors and advocates for justice throughout the country call for police reform and accountability

What is Police Misconduct?

Police misconduct covers a wide variety of actions by police officers and law enforcement agents. The conduct in question violates police guidelines for performing their duties or breaks one or more laws. 

Police misconduct may involve witness tampering, police brutality, or malicious prosecution. Other examples of police misconduct include false arrest, assault, tampering with evidence, theft, coerced confessions, and many other actions. 

If you are the victim of police misconduct, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. An attorney reviews your case to determine if police misconduct existed and if the misconduct resulted in your criminal charges. The lawyer advises you of your legal rights and your options to pursue misconduct allegations and defend yourself against the charges.

Ten Examples of Police Misconduct in America

Sadly, there are countless examples of police misconduct. However, many of those cases are never known to the public. Below are ten examples of police misconduct that made it to the news.

1.  The Death of George Floyd

One of the most recent and well-known cases of police brutality involves the death of George Floyd. We know that Mr. Floyd was held down and pinned beneath three police officers through video footage and eyewitness testimony, even though he was begging for his life.

Videos revealed that the police officers violated the Minneapolis Police Department’s policies numerous times during the confrontation. Officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, even after Mr. Floyd was unconscious. 

The officers were fired from the police department and are charged with various crimes, including second-degree murder and aiding & abetting second-degree murder.

2.  The Death of Walter Scott 

Walter Scott was an unarmed black motorist in North Charleston, South Carolina. A white police officer, Michael T. Slager, stopped Mr. Scott for a broken taillight. After the traffic stop, Mr. Scott got out of his car and fled on foot.

Mr. Scott was running away from Officer Slager after the two struggled over the officer’s taser. Mr. Scott broke away and ran, unarmed, away from Officer Slager. Officer Slager shot at Mr. Scott’s back eight times. 

Officer Slager could be seen dropping his taser beside Mr. Scott’s body in an alleged attempt to plant evidence. Officer Slager is currently serving 20 years in prison on charges of murder.

3.  The Shooting of Philando Castile

Philando Castile was driving with his girlfriend and daughter through Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Officer Jeronimo Yanez initiated a traffic stop. 

Mr. Castile informed the officer that he had a legal firearm in the car. He agreed not to reach for the firearm, but told the officer he would reach for his identification. When Mr. Castile reached for his identification, Officer Yanez fired seven shots into the car, killing Mr. Castile in front of his child and girlfriend.

Officer Castile was acquitted on charges of manslaughter

4.  The Beating of Rodney King

In March 1991, Rodney King was driving with friends through Los Angeles. Two officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop for speeding, but Mr. King refused to stop because he feared a DUI charge after drinking earlier in the night.

Police officers cornered Mr. King after an eight-mile chase. Police officers attempted to arrest Mr. King and his friends. Mr. King resisted arrest.

Officers tasered Mr. King twice, which knocked him to the ground. As he tried to stand up, he was struck to the ground by a baton. Police officers continued to strike Mr. King with batons until they handcuffed him.

In total, Mr. King was kicked seven times and hit with a baton 33 times. 

5.  The Death of Eric Garner

New York Police Department officers were attempting to arrest Mr. Garner for selling illegal cigarettes. They tackled Mr. Garner to the ground before one of the officers used an illegal chokehold on Mr. Garner 

Mr. Garner could be heard repeatedly stating that he could not breathe. Despite his pleas, the officer did not release him from the chokehold. As a result, Mr. Garner died.

The officer was fired from the force for his actions.

6.  Fabricating Evidence – The John Spencer Case

Mr. Spencer was a suspect in a homicide case being investigated by the New York State Police. The officer in charge did not believe that the state had enough evidence to prosecute Mr. Spencer. 

Along with another officer, the officer in charge lifted Spencer’s fingerprints from items he touched during booking. They added the fingerprints to evidence cards for prints found at the crime scene. The charge of fabricating evidence resulted in a prison sentence for the officer in charge.

7.  Sexual Assault and Rape by NYC Police Officers

Two New York police officers arrested a young woman on charges of possession of marijuana. After placing her in their police van, they raped her and forced her to perform oral sex on them. They forced her to do these acts by threatening to charge her with a crime. 

The officers were charged with numerous crimes, including sexual assault, coercion, rape, and kidnapping.

8.  Racial Profiling in Ferguson, MO

Reports revealed that police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, regularly stopped and searched men of color without probable cause or a warrant. The officers lied about their interactions with the men to investigators looking into the racial profiling allegations. The officers were only suspended for a short period for their misconduct. 

9.  False Arrest and Coercion – Rachelle Jackson Case

When Ms. Jackson witnessed a traffic accident, she ran to the burning car and pulled one of the two Chicago police officers to safety. She was assisting the injured officer when other officers arrived. The officers accused Ms. Jackson of stealing the injured officer’s weapon.

Ms. Jackson was arrested and held in jail for ten months. During that time, she was subjected to repeated threats and coerced into signing a statement.

A judge dismissed the case when it came to trial. Ms. Jackson sued the officers and the City of Chicago for malicious prosecution, coercive questioning, and false arrest. She was awarded $7.7 million.

10. Witness Tampering and Theft 

Officer Anthony Maldonado stole a large amount of cash that he noticed when he pulled over a driver in Maui, Hawaii. The officer tried to bribe the victim when the victim reported the theft to the police. Eventually, Office Maldonado was fired and sentenced to two years in prison for theft and tampering with a witness. 

Police misconduct continues. Protect your legal rights by contacting a criminal defense lawyer whenever you deal with the police or the criminal justice system.