Police misconduct and violence has been a hot topic of speculation for many years in Salt Lake City and all across the U.S.
In September, an outrageous incident of a Utah detective violently detaining a nurse for protecting an unconscious patient’s rights thrust itself into the national headlines.
The detective of the Salt Lake City Police Department, Jeff Payne, was fired after he violently grabbed the nurse, Alex Wubbels, and slammed her against the wall before detaining her for… doing her job.
The entire confrontation was recorded on camera in the hospital and has become a nationwide scandal. Although the detective was booted off from the police for his “inappropriate, unreasonable” and “disrespectful,” not all police misconduct incidents end like this.
Earlier this year, U.S. Department of Justice reported that there were nearly 4,900 incidents of police misconduct and brutality in 2016, killing nearly 250 people in the U.S.
Could the nurse sue and win a lawsuit against the detective?
In the Salt Lake City incident, the detective basically turned violent and handcuffed the nurse for refusing to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient involved in a fatal crash.
The nurse explained that she would not violate both the law and the hospital’s policies and prevented the detective from getting his hands on the patient’s blood sample without either a warrant or the patient’s consent.
The nurse was later released with no charges of a crime, but she chose not to file a police misconduct claim against the detective.
If she did, could she possibly win a lawsuit against a former law enforcement officer? According to statistics, quite a lot of lawsuits relating to police misconduct and brutality go to trial, and there were over $346 million spent in settlements last year.
Why it’s practically impossible to win a police misconduct lawsuit
Here at the White & Matern, PLLC, our police misconduct attorneys in Salt Lake City and all across Utah have dealt with dozens of claims related to police brutality, violence, and false arrests.
We asked our finest attorneys at the law firm to outline what could Mrs. Wubbels – or anyone in her situation – do to win a lawsuit against a police officer?
Although lawsuits relating to police misconduct and brutality are rather difficult to win in Utah, as officers are most of the times protected by “investigatorial immunity,” solid evidence, witness accounts and a professional legal representation from an experienced police misconduct attorney are vital to winning such cases.
How to win a police misconduct case in Utah?
Investigatorial immunity doesn’t mean that police officers can do whatever they want on the streets of Salt Lake City and get away with it, as any law enforcement officer can be held liable for unlawful restraint and a violation of your civil liberties.
Depending on your circumstances, you may want to file an action in federal or state court to pursue a police misconduct claim. After this step, that’s when usually about 80% of all plaintiffs who aren’t represented by a law firm tend to make mistakes and lessen their chances of winning a case.
At this point, the plaintiff is supposed to show solid evidence to prove police misconduct, brutality or violence or that he/she was falsely arrested and that the officer acted without any legal authority.
Even if the police officer you’re using has no evidence of his own to protect himself from the police misconduct lawsuit, he/she may still win just because your evidence is insufficient.
Seek the legal advice of our police misconduct attorney to find substantial and sufficient evidence of police violence, brutality or false arrest as well as gather witness accounts to hold the police accountable for any of their unlawful wrongdoing.