Arrests often follow a chase, a struggle or even a fight and may require force to subdue a suspect. The control of jail inmates also sometimes requires physical intervention by guards. However, the right to arrest someone or to ensure that directions given by prison personnel are carried out does not justify the use of excessive force. Officers and prison guards must account for their behavior, and the law requires that certain requirements be met before physical force is employed.
A recent allegation of unjustifiable force was made by 43-year-old Joey Holland, an inmate in De Soto County Jail in May. Holland claims that he was beaten by officers during three separate incidents on May 25 at the correction facility. Mr. Holland was released from the facility and filed a complaint against the officers, which is under investigation. The officers have been suspended pending results of the investigation.
Use of force permitted for self-defense
The law regarding the use of force by law enforcement officers states that officers are justified in using force if they are acting in self-defense, or in defense of a colleague. Use of force is also permitted in recapturing felons who have escaped or are believed to be fleeing from justice.
Although Joey Holland’s case does not involve an arrest after a chase and its circumstances are not yet clear, it highlights the gray area that can exist between a justified struggle with a suspect or inmate and abuse of power.
Proving a claim of unjustified force against a police officer or member of prison staff can be very difficult. Judges and juries may tend to give more credibility to the testimonies of public servants than either convicted criminals or those accused of behaving violently toward police. Having a lawyer on your side who understands the rights and obligations of officers using force can be essential to your case. If excessive force is used by law enforcement in effectuating an arrest, it may provide leverage for one in the criminal case. Additionally, a State or even Federal civil rights suit against the agency may be warranted. Call The Byrd Law Firm in Sarasota as our experienced attorneys can assist you.