Police Brutality & Shootings

How Much Force is Too Much?

The United States Constitution, as well as our American laws, impose limits on the level of force government entities are allowed to use against citizens. It seems like more and more often we see televised instances of police brutality. Yet carrying a badge and a uniform does not give law enforcement officers the right to abuse the power given them. Law enforcement officers who do use excessive force, engaging in police brutality or unwarranted shootings, have violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights given to Americans; however, such cases can be particularly difficult to prove.

The attorneys of Peck Hadfield Baxter and Moore have the necessary experience and knowledge to build a solid case against a police officer or police department that engages in willful police brutality. While police officers, sheriff’s officers, and other law enforcement officers may use reasonable force to apprehend and subdue, violence used only to punish, coerce a confession, inflict intentional pain or intimidate is never acceptable. Specific examples of police brutality can include the following:

  • Beating using fists or batons
  • Choking the person in custody
  • Using pepper spray when it is not warranted
  • Body slamming against a wall, vehicle or object
  • The unnecessary use of guns or Tasers
  • Excessive use of pepper spray
  • Abuse of the prisoner’s rights
  • Using police dogs in an inappropriate manner in order to harm or intimidate
  • Any excessive use of force or other type of police misconduct or abuse

What Level of Force are Police Officers Allowed to Use?

Police officers are trained to use only the amount of force necessary; however, in many cases they may break protocol or procedure. An officer may continue hitting a prisoner with a police baton even though the prisoner is subdued or even disabled. A Taser gun – powerful enough to change a person’s heart rhythm and result in a heart attack – may be wrongly used in cases where the person in custody did not pose any physical threat to the officer but may have simply been verbally combative. This is not an acceptable use of a Taser gun. 

When the prisoner is subdued after being sprayed with pepper spray, officers should never continue to use the spray, particularly in the mouth or nose at close range as respiratory distress can result. When using a choke hold or take-down maneuver, the act may only be performed when necessary and legal, never as a means of inflicting additional punishment or out of anger or retribution. Officers may not throw suspects in handcuffs against a wall or vehicle as severe facial injuries can result.

Getting the Help you Need from a Knowledgeable Utah Law Firm

At Peck Hadfield, our attorneys will determine whether another reasonable police officer, in the same circumstances, would have acted in the same manner as the police officer who brutalized you or a loved one. We will examine all the issues surrounding your potential police brutality case, particularly whether the office followed departmental procedure and whether you were, in any way, resisting arrest. Our attorneys will discover whether excessive force was used only to show dominance on the part of the police officer, and whether you were subjected to sexual misconduct or racial profiling perhaps as a prelude to the incidence of police brutality.

Contact Us

At Peck Hadfield Baxter & Moore, we pride ourselves on consistent and excellent client service. We never shuffle your case to support staff, rather we take great satisfaction in communicating directly with our clients and promptly returning client emails and phone calls. We understand that your future and your rights are important; if you were victimized by an over-aggressive or violent police officer, we will work hard in the pursuit of justice. Rather than only looking for obvious cases and quick settlements, we take your case seriously, no matter how small or large. Contact Peck, Hadfield, Baxter and Moore at 435-787-9700.


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