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Areas of Practice / Federal Civil Rights

Areas of Practice

>   Police Brutality
          • Excessive force
          • Racial Slurs

          • Lethal Force

Federal Civil Rights in Hampden County, Massachusetts

CIVIL RIGHTS:        What are Civil Rights?

Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one’s ability to participate in civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.

Civil Rights include the people’s physical and mental integrity, life and safety. They include protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, national original, race, ethnicity, religion or disability.  They also include freedoms of speech, expression, religion, the press, assembly and movement.

Political rights included procedural fairness in law, such as the rights of the accused to a fair trial, due process, the rights to seek redress or a legal remedy.   


Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in order to protect the rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.   Under Section 1983, a victim can file a lawsuit in federal court for police brutality.

How exactly does this work?

Common Kinds of Police Brutality

Victims can be harmed in many ways by malicious police actions. Some of the more common types of police brutality include:

  • Excessive force. Officers are authorized to use reasonable amounts of force to restrain or capture a suspect. A court can find that under circumstances the force was unreasonable, which allows a victim to recover.
  • Racial slurs. There is never a reason under the law for an officer to shout racial epithets or slurs at a suspect. This verbal abuse can lead to a victim recovering under Section 1983.
  • Lethal force. When an officer unreasonably shoots to kill a suspect, that person's Fourth Amendment Rights are in peril, and the victim and her family can recover.

What Is Section 1983?

Section 1983 allows any person within the United States to sue a government official for depriving them of a constitutional right. In police brutality suits, the following violations are common:

  • Fourth Amendment. An officer touching your physical person and illegally seizing you.
  • Fifth Amendment. Intentionally refusing to read a suspect their Miranda rights.
  • 14th Amendment. Slurs and verbal abuse based on race can violate a suspect's right to equal protection.

Who Can Be Sued Under Section 1983?

Victims of police brutality can sue a variety of people and entities under Section 1983. Depending on the circumstances, this can include:

  • Law enforcement officers. It may seem obvious, but you can sue the officers responsible as well as their supervisors for any injuries and violations of your rights. These officers, however, may be able to claim qualified immunity.  
  • City and county governments. Often this is the formal way to sue a police department.
  • The mayor of a city. Another way to sue a city department is to sue the mayor of that city.

Notable Cases

Case against Ian Freeman, who attempted to videotape auction at Palmer Town Hall, dismissed.



Firms Recent Success with Police Brutality


Attorney Shawn P. Allyn & Lisa A. Ball successfully won settlement for Melvin Jones who was brutally beaten by a Springfield Police Officer.   





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Tel: (413) 538-7118

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