A police officer wields enormous power but power is needs to be tempered with responsibility. This is why police officers are trained to be responsible in the discharge of their duties. However, some police officers get carried away and commit offences that infringe on the rights of other citizens. When this happens, such officers can be charged for abuse of power. Below are some examples of police misconduct.
Excessive force is one form of police misconduct that generates a lot of reaction from the society. This is because it usually results in physical injury, disability or even death. A police officer may shoot a suspect in self-defense if that suspect is armed or attempts to attack the officer. However, in cases where the police officer shoots an unarmed person, the officer in question is liable and may be prosecuted. It is important to point out that result takes precedence over intentions in cases of excessive force. If the police officer had good intentions but used unreasonable force, he or she will still be liable.
A malicious prosecution claim against a police officer may be substantiated under the following conditions. The police officer in question commenced criminal proceedings against another party. The proceedings ended in favor of that other party (there was no conviction). The police officer accused of malicious prosecution could not show probable cause. The proceeding was brought with malicious intentions toward the victim.
Failure to Intervene
Police officers have a duty to protect members of the society from violations of the constitution by other officers. In cases where an officer fails to protect any citizen from constitutional violations by fellow officers, that police officer may be charged with failure to intervene. Clearly, failure to intervene is an abuse of power but it is difficult to prove because police officers generally stick together and close ranks when one of them is threatened.
A case of false arrest may be preferred against a police officer if the victim has cogent grounds. If the officer violated the Fourth Amendment right of the victim, there are grounds for a case of false arrest. In addition, the victim must show that the arresting police officer in this context had no probable cause.
Police officers are trained to enforce the law and not to abuse it. In cases where a case of misconduct has been established against a law enforcement agent, that officer should be punished because this will serve as a deterrent to other officers.