What constitutes excessive force and what actions are acceptable for police officers to exhibit?

02/07/2007 - Category:Criminal - Minors - State: FL #458

Full Question:

My son's were found in the parking lot of an abandoned warehouse as they were rounding the corner of the building from the rear to the front. They were intercepted by three police officers. The police officers not only had their weapons drawn but immediately pointed them at my children, ages 16 and 12 upon which time they ordered them to freeze. They then ordered them to the ground; my eldest was a little faster however, my youngest was obviously not acting rapidly enough and after getting to his knees was helped the rest of the way to the ground by the foot of one of the officers. They were immediately handcuffed, patted down and placed in the rear of a cruiser. The officers then told them they were under arrest for burglary and vandalism. My questions are as follows: 1. Since they were found outside of the building and there was no proof that they had been in the building, does this not constitute more of a trespass charge. 2. Since they were never asked if they had entered the building, is it not presumed that they are innocent until proven guilty? 3. What constitutes excessive force and what actions are acceptable for police officers to exhibit?

Answer:

1. If they are charged with burglary, the prosecutor must prove that they broke in and entered into something like a building, car, boat, or trailer with the intent to commit a crime. The crime of larceny involves the wrongful taking of the personal property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Trespass is entering another person's property without permission of the owner or legal authority.

2. The constitutional right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty does not apply to an arrest situation. An officer must only have probable cause in order to make an arrest.

3. In assessing whether the use of force, deadly or not, was excessive, the Supreme Court has held that the proper test is one of "objective reasonableness." It is irrelevant whether the actually believed that the force used was not excessive. The proper inquiry is whether the officer's actions in the use of force were objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting the officer, without regard to the officer's motivation. Among the factors to be considered in assessing whether the use of force was unreasonable are the severity of the crime the plaintiff was suspected of having committed, whether the plaintiff posed an immediate threat to the police officer or others, whether the plaintiff actively resisted arrest, and whether the plaintiff attempted to evade arrest by fleeing.



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02/07/2007 - Category: Minors - State: FL #458

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