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NYC Excessive Force & False Arrest Attorney

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Interactions with law enforcement should hold no terror for those who follow the law, but far too often, innocent people face unfair treatment, including bodily injury, false imprisonment, humiliation, and wrongful death, by police who abuse their power.

If you have been brutalized by police, you are not alone. The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), which receives complaints about police misconduct by the New York Police Department, reported 279,644 unique complaints in their database involving 102,121 incidents and 48,757 NYPD officers, as of April 2021.  

Police misconduct affects all citizens of New York City. The false arrest lawyers at Meirowitz & Wasserberg live and work in the city, and we strive to make our city a safer place by holding police officers accountable when they abuse their power and prey on innocent individuals.

NYC Police Cars with Sirens

What is excessive force?

Use of excessive force occurs when a police officer uses more physical force than necessary to question or arrest an individual. Examples include the following:

  • Beating, kicking, or hitting
  • Chokeholds 
  • Unwarranted use of tasers, pepper spray, guns, or other weapons
  • Denial of medical attention
  • Unreasonable searches
  • Detaining without cause

Police officers may use controlled force as necessary to detain combative suspects and protect public and personal safety. However, force should never be used against anyone who is non-combative and does not present a danger to the officer or the public.

What is false arrest?

Police officers may only arrest a suspect in the following circumstances:

  • When they have an arrest warrant
  • When they have probable cause  

According to the New York City Police Department’s website, probable cause is “sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime.” The concept of probable cause was introduced in the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution. Any arrest without probable cause violates your constitutional rights. 

False arrest is arrest or imprisonment without a warrant or probable cause. It is a traumatic experience. Victims of false arrest experience severe mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of reputation, job loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychiatric disorders, and negative impacts on family relationships. Police brutality also impacts the community by creating fear and distrust of police.

Who is at risk for wrongful arrest or police brutality?

No one is 100% safe from experiencing wrongful arrest or excessive force, but people of color, especially African Americans and Latinx, are most often victims of police misconduct. This is due in part to outdated policies — such as stop-and-frisk — that promote racial profiling and broken windows policing, which promotes excessive punishment for minor infractions. Minority and low-income neighborhoods are most often targeted.

Although declared unconstitutional in 2013, stop-and-frisk searches still occur, with 9,544 stops recorded in 2020. Of those stopped, 86% were black or Latinx. Only 9% were white.  

Police officers in Brooklyn have filed complaints because their commanding officer told them to target African Americans and Latinx individuals but not white and Asian people. Racial disparities continue to grow.

What to Do if You Are Stopped by the Police

Being stopped by police can be stressful. The most important measure to ensure your safety is to remain cooperative and in control throughout the encounter. It is possible to be falsely arrested or brutalized even if you do everything correctly, but the New York Civil Liberties Union claims that taking certain measures will give you the best chance of escaping the encounter unharmed:

  • Stay calm and use non-threatening body language and tone of voice.
  • Avoid arguing or bad-mouthing the officer.
  • Keep your hands where police can see them.
  • Don’t run.
  • Don’t touch the officer.
  • Don’t resist, even if you are innocent.

Under the Right to Know Act, officers are required to identify themselves. You have the right, in most cases, to know why the officer stopped you. You are entitled to be informed that you do not have to consent to a search and to receive the officer’s business card.

What is being done to prevent police misconduct?

Unfortunately, not enough is being done to hold NYC police officers accountable when they abuse their power. An analysis by the New York Times revealed the NYPD failed to follow through with officer discipline recommendations by the CCRB in 71% of the 6,900 cases analyzed.

When officers are not held accountable for their misconduct, they receive the message that they can repeat their offenses without consequences. The victim does not receive justice, and public mistrust of the police is exacerbated.

If the City of New York will not hold its officers accountable for their egregious abuse of power when they brutalize innocent New Yorkers, the law firm of Meirowitz & Wasserberg will fight aggressively on behalf of its clients to hold the city responsible. 

NYPD Officers

What to Do if You Are a Victim of New York Police Brutality

If you are the innocent victim of police brutality or false arrest, you may feel powerless. However, you have the power to hold the offending officers accountable through multiple methods. 

  1. File a complaint with the CCRB online, over the phone, by visiting the office, or by mailing them a letter. Their phone number is (800) 341-2272, or you can reach them by calling 311. Their address is 100 Church Street, 10th Fl., New York, NY 10007. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, and no appointment is necessary.
  2. File a complaint with the New York State Attorney General.
  3. Call a police brutality lawyer.

How much is my police misconduct case worth?

Every case is unique, so the compensation to which clients are entitled varies. If you have been targeted because of your race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected status, you have suffered serious civil rights violations that could entitle you to substantial compensation. If you or your family has suffered substantial harm, you could receive significant compensation for medical expenses, counseling, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.

How can a police misconduct lawyer help?

Wrongful arrest and police brutality cases are the ultimate injustice. Police misconduct can destroy your self-worth and leave you disillusioned about the world. Police are supposed to be the good guys who protect and serve. Victimization by the very people who are supposed to protect you is a betrayal of public trust. Due to their power, standing up to them can be intimidating.

An experienced NYC personal injury lawyer with a passion for defending everyday people can provide advocacy, legal advice, and support to ensure this injustice is corrected. The attorneys at Meirowitz & Wasserberg work tirelessly for the benefit of their clients. We have successfully fought against corporate giants, insurance companies, and governments while aggressively representing our clients. 

Our dedication has paid off in the form of billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. While no amount of money can remove the trauma, it can help you experience a sense of justice and empower you to move forward in the most beneficial direction for you.

If you are an innocent victim of police brutality or abuse of power in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, or the Bronx, contact the law office of Meirowitz & Wasserberg today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

New York City Office

1040 Sixth Avenue, Suite 12B

New York, NY 10018

212-897-1988

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