7 Examples of Police Misconduct

Police misconduct comes in many different forms, whether that means physical acts of violence or more intangible problems like corruption. Regardless of its specific nature, all police misconduct presents a serious threat to our civil rights – and it is unequivocally illegal in the United States.

Of course, it can be hard to identify when police misconduct occurs, as people tend to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt. If you or someone you love has been victimized by police misconduct, you deserve to seek justice against those who have wronged you. Here at Tedford & Associates, our attorneys are committed to providing the legal representation you need.

Below, we’ve compiled a few of the most common examples of police misconduct. We’ve also included some suggestions for getting started with your claim.

Here are 7 of the most common examples of police misconduct:

  1. Illegal search and seizure. Under the 4th Amendment, Americans are protected from “unreasonable” search-and-seizure methods. While the police can override this right with probable cause and a warrant, many officers do not exercise due diligence to justify their search. If the circumstances of your search and seizure do not seem official, or if the police officer refuses to produce a warrant, you may have grounds for a misconduct claim.
  2. Physical violence and abuse. Also known as “excessive force” or simply “physical force,” unwarranted violence is a very real problem for the LAPD and other police departments around the country, especially for people of color. The Police Violence Report documented 1,147 killings by police in 2017 alone – and most of the killings happened after victims were stopped for suspected non-violent offenses or traffic violations.
  3. Lying to investigators. Whether it’s withholding evidence, tampering with police records, or outright lying to investigator’s faces, police perjury is one of the most serious and persistent forms of police misconduct. It also does the most damage to our justice system by obscuring the core facts in criminal cases.
  4. Sexual misconduct. Along with raw physical violence, police departments around the country also have a problem with sexual violence against suspects and arrested individuals. A 2019 USA Today investigation unearthed thousands of alleged sexual misconduct incidents, and of these incidents, over 3,145 involved rape, child molestation, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse.
  5. Racial profiling. The Department of Justice probe into the Ferguson Police Department uncovered that the police overwhelmingly targeted African Americans. 85% of all vehicle stops and 93% of all arrests there involved black citizens, even though they only make up 67% of the total Ferguson population. Racial profiling is an illegal and discriminatory tactic, but it is unfortunately common in many parts of the country – including here in Los Angeles.
  6. Drug and alcohol abuse. Of the 30,000 former law enforcement officials who have been permanently banned from the profession, at least 4,537 were cited for drug and alcohol abuse. Some police officers take their addiction a step further and use their position of power to sell drugs and illicit substances as well. 
  7. Intimidation and forced confessions. Torturing suspected criminals to force a confession is a violation of multiple laws and ethical norms here in the United States. Yet studies show that police officers engage in suspect intimidation as a matter of common practice at many police departments.

How Can I File a Claim for Police Misconduct?

Under the Federal Civil Rights Act, section 1983, you have the right to take civil action against police officers who abuse their power. If your civil rights have been violated, you need to document everything you can remember immediately following the incident – particularly the officer’s name, badge number, ID, and location.

While you should always seek out appropriate medical attention first, you should file a written complaint against the officer once your condition has stabilized. It’s also important to speak with a skilled attorney beforehand so that you can have a strong legal strategy. Suing a police officer or an entire police department is no easy task, and you will need experienced counsel to fight for your rights.

As police misconduct lawyers serving Los Angeles and Pasadena for more than 35 years, it’s our goal to help you get the justice you deserve. Standing by your side every step of the way, the team at Tedford & Associates will help you root out corruption and seek fair compensation for any injuries.

Call (626) 325-0142 today for more information.


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