What to Do About Police Misconduct

1. Know your rights! You do not have to talk to an officer; if you don't want to talk, then don't talk. You do not have to let an officer into your house just because he asks. He must have a search warrant or some other "exigent" or legitimate emergency reason to come in. You do not have to let an officer search your car just because he asks. Do not give consent to this, nor should you sign any consent form. The officer must have a search warrant or "probable cause" to search your car. If an officer reasonably detains you, he has the right to pat you down for safety reasons.

2. If an officer uses excessive force on you, beats you unreasonably or strikes you without a reasonable cause, you should make sure you get his name; if you can't get his name, get any identifying information, such as a license plate number, star number, physical description (coupled with the district you're in), and car number, if a marked car.

3. If an officer beats you or otherwise uses excessive force on you, you should get pictures of the injuries. Make sure you go to the emergency room to get yourself checked. If you are taken to jail, make sure you request to see a doctor.

4. It is generally not a good idea to go to OPS and make a report. They do not help you. One exception may be when you don't know the identity of the officer, but ask your lawyer first if you should go to OPS.

5. Try to obtain the names and/or addresses/phone numbers of witnesses to the police brutality and/or misconduct.

6. If you are falsely arrested, do not plead guilty to anything if you want to try and have a civil rights case. If you plead guilty, no matter how good the deal that is offered, then there is a good chance you will ruin your chances for a case against the police. Talk to a civil rights lawyer and your criminal lawyer before you make these decisions.

7. If you are denied needed medical treatment while in police custody, make sure you get the appropriate treatment as soon as you are released. Make sure you get the names of the officers who denied the treatment.

For a free consultation with Ed Fox & Associates, Ltd., call 312-345-8877 or send an e-mail. The firm represents clients in the greater Chicago, Illinois, area.

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