The media has been focusing on the rights of individuals as they relate to police misconduct. Personally, I believe that most police officers understand the needs of their community and are performing an important service. However, the so-called rogue police officer is an employee of the city or town where he or she works. Thus, the municipality becomes responsible for the actions of such police officers. This is known as “respondeat superior” and the concept applies to most employer / employee relationships.
A victim of police brutality has redress under the common law as well as as special federal law entitled “Section 1983.” A person who is wronged under this statute has the right to sue to municipality for the violation of his or her civil rights. Congress enacted this law as an addition to the state laws that also protected citizens.
A police officer has the right to effectuate an arrest if he or she reasonably believes that as crime has occurred or is about to occur. If a police officer intends to make an arrest, physical force may be used to effectuate such an arrest if the accused does not cooperate. However a police officer may NOT use physical or deadly force when it is not warranted. Such abuse of power violates the individuals rights under the US Constitution as well as section 1983 and state laws.